Patients with long-term lung complaints can now benefit from more joined up care thanks to changes in respiratory services.

Respiratory services, currently provided by Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust and Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, have been brought together into a single team to provide a seamless service between hospital and home. 

Between 2012 and 2013 there were over 1,000 unplanned hospital admissions in Gloucestershire as a result of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD) – a term used for a collection of diseases including chronic bronchitis and emphysema.  The new ‘one stop shop’ will provide a co-ordinated approach for all service users at every stage of their care.

Dr Helen Miller, Clinical Chair of NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group and Clinical Lead for Respiratory services said the integration of the teams is an exciting development: “In Gloucestershire, we’re seeing an increasing number of patients with respiratory conditions that need specialist care. This mirrors the national picture and ties in with our ageing population. Locally, there are around 40 to 60 new referrals every month, with most people being referred by their GP. The newly formed Gloucestershire Respiratory Team will improve the quality of information and advice people receive, reduce the amount of time they need to spend in hospital and reduce their likelihood of having to go back into hospital, as well as supporting GPs and surgery staff.”

Sally King, respiratory team lead from Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust, said: “We’re working in hospitals, as well as closely with GPs and out in the local community.  Our aim is to help people recover, manage their condition, feel as well as they can, and support them as they leave hospital so that they can recover in the place that is best for them, perhaps in one of our community hospitals or in their own home.”

The new-look service offers a range of options including urgent assessments, supported discharge (where a patient leaves hospital but remains under the care of a consultant and receives treatment in their home), home oxygen assessments, outpatient clinics and pulmonary rehabilitation. The improved service provides a ‘one stop shop’ through a central telephone number that gives support to GPs and other health professionals on the types of care available for their patients’ needs.

Dr Andrew White, respiratory consultant with Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “Bringing the specialist nursing and physiotherapy expertise together into one team means we are able to make the transition from hospital to home much more streamlined. As clinicians, we recognise this is very important. The different types of care work together, meaning that people can move across services as their needs change.”

“By providing more complex and integrated care in community settings outside of hospital, consultants are able to focus on patients who have very serious medical needs and have confidence that patients are receiving the best care outside of hospital, with support from the highly-skilled respiratory team.”

Duncan Thomas, Senior Commissioning Manager for NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group added: “This one-team approach demonstrates the benefits of integrating services across hospital and community settings, and could act as a blueprint for other specialist services.”