Access to specialist services

The vast majority of people go to their local GP to review their treatment and have their annual review but some people need more specialised support and are referred to specialist centres.

What is the issue?

Specialised services for asthma are held in hospital clinics with respiratory clinicians and other specialists including speech therapists, physiotherapists and specialist asthma nurses. The clinics have limited capacity and at the moment it is mostly people with severe asthma who are referred to specialised asthma clinics. Approximately 1,000 patients are under the care of specialised services out of the estimated 200,000-250,000 population with severe asthma.

At a time with new severe asthma treatments on the horizon it is important to consider how people will be able to access new treatments if they are approved.

What are we proposing?

Asthma UK wants to make sure that the people that need access to further specialist support are able to. With new severe asthma treatments it will be important to consider if they need to be administered in specialist clinics or if they can be given more locally.

There is a developing ‘hub and spokes’ model where specialist clinics link with more local services to support them remotely so that patients do not have to travel so far and more people can be given more specialist support than they would get in a GP clinic.

Better use of technology will also offer different ways to review medicine use and asthma control. With emerging technologies it might be possible for clinicians to monitor asthma control remotely so that rather than having set 6 monthly appointments, clinicians will be able to prioritise who they see and when they see them based on remote observations. This will help to ensure that people see a specialist when they most need to and also use NHS resources wisely.

What is Asthma UK doing about it?

Asthma UK has responded to consultations relating to specialised services and has already successfully influenced on changes in England. We continue to look for new ways to improve services for people with asthma across the UK. We are also working to make sure that the need for new treatments is made clear to the bodies across the UK and that services are set up in an efficient way so that as many people can get the treatment they need, see specialists when it is most needed and are able to manage their asthma as best they can.   

What can you do about it?

If you have severe asthma and have (or have not) been able to access specialised services, we would like to hear from you. If you have any questions about specialised services you can ask your GP about it and read more information here.

Contact

If you have any questions about this you can email us at evidence@asthma.org.uk

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