Pulmonary rehabilitation strategy calls for 1,000 additional staff to meet demand

Better investment is needed to improve pulmonary rehabilitation services in England, a new report reveals.

The report says an increase in physiotherapy training places is needed to meet the demand for pulmonary rehab services

In its five-year plan, launched today, the Taskforce for Lung Health, whose membership includes the CSP, sets out a raft of measures to improve lung health.

Commenting, CSP chief executive Karen Middleton, said: ‘Pulmonary rehab can have a dramatic impact on a person’s quality of life so it’s essential that no one misses out.

‘The publication of this strategy is an important step towards ensuring access to those services for everyone who needs it and to a faster diagnosis for more people in the first place.

‘We are very pleased to have played a role in the taskforce and urge decision-makers in all UK countries to act upon the recommendations.’

Among the recommendations is a call for 1,000 additional staff to meet demand for pulmonary rehabilitation services. This includes 600 physiotherapists and other registered staff, and 400 support staff, plus an increase in physiotherapy training places.

Despite ‘solid’ evidence showing pulmonary rehab to be effective in reducing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbation, currently only 15 per cent of patients eligible under National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidance are ever referred.

The taskforce recommends improved access so that every eligible person identified is referred, and has the opportunity to complete pulmonary rehab.

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers told Frontline: ‘This report…indicates the risk we face in the gap between our ambitions for our services and the people available to support their delivery. The Long Term Plan provides the opportunity to focus national action to improve supply.’

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘There are over 1,200 more physiotherapists working in the NHS since 2010 and the NHS Long Term Plan will ensure staff have the support they need to deliver excellent care.’

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