The UK’s First Asthma Bus Launches In Leyland

UK’s first ‘asthma bus’ set to provide vital resource to pressured NHS respiratory services as asthma sufferers admit to putting off care during pandemic.

An ‘asthma bus’ officially opened today at Chorley House, based on Lancashire Enterprise Business Park in Leyland, as it begins its journey around the UK aiming to offer vitally needed support to pressured NHS respiratory services. The NHS is now accelerating respiratory appointments, as part of a wider drive to speed up the delivery of operations and other non-urgent services, following disruptions to services as a result of the pandemic

The issue of asthma needs attention across the UK. It is estimated that someone with asthma suffers an attack every ten seconds and, on average, three people die from an asthma attack every day. Levels of care have been clearly impacted by the pandemic with a report by Asthma UK finding that more than 1 in 20 asthma patients admit to delaying care during the pandemic, and over a quarter avoided receiving treatment from their GP. It is estimated that approximately 3.53 million of the 5.4 million people diagnosed with asthma in the UK are not receiving a ‘basic level of care’.1

Across NHS Central Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) services are looking to support patients who may need urgent attention:

  • Around 6% people living in the NHS Central Lancashire CCGs area (inclusive of NHS Chorley & South Ribble CCG and NHS Greater Preston CCG) suffer from asthma
  • An average of 16 people per 100,000 registered asthma patients die from asthma across the NHS Central Lancashire CCGs4
  • All clinical commissioning groups across the Lancashire-12 (the 12 local authorities that fall within the Lancashire County Council administrative boundary) area have a significantly higher level of asthma prevalence compared to the national average across England
  • In the period 2017-2019, there were 1,492 deaths of people aged under-75 in the Lancashire-12 area related to respiratory disease, significantly higher than the national average across England

In a partnership between Central Lancashire CCGs, inclusive of both NHS Chorley & South Ribble CCG and NHS Greater Preston CCG, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, PRECISION / AstraZeneca and the North West Innovation Agency, the PRECISION Asthma Mobile Clinic will assist the team at The Airways Asthma Clinic to people with asthma get the care they need.  Specialist nurses will work to identify and invite eligible patients to attend the Clinic for testing and will liaise with their GPs to formulate an action plan for their care. Three rooms on PRECISION Asthma Mobile Clinic will also be offered to local Primary Care Networks to support the diagnosis of respiratory conditions through the restarting of spirometry testing, also delivered at the Clinic. Training and education packages for Primary Care will also be made available as well as resources to support patients with self-management of the condition.

It will spend 10 weeks in the region, starting at Chorley House, based on Lancashire Enterprise Business Park in Leyland today, before moving in 4-weeks to Preston Healthport until the 17th December. It is anticipated that the Clinic will allow for around 350-400 extra appointments to be conducted during its stay.

Commenting on the PRECISION Asthma Mobile Clinic’s arrival, Dr Sumantra Mukerji, local GP and CCG Chair said: “We are delighted to welcome the PRECISION Asthma Mobile Clinic to central Lancashire. Hosting the unit, the first of its kind in the U.K, marks our commitment to do more to diagnose and manage respiratory problems earlier, as set out in the ambitions in the NHS Long Term Plan. Following the outbreak of the global coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, it is more important than ever for us to work together in new and innovate ways. We anticipate the positive impact that this additional resource will have for those suffering with severe asthma in our communities, potentially avoiding unnecessary urgent admissions and reducing the incidence of deaths, whilst also reducing pressures within the wider healthcare system. We are proud to be working in partnership with Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, PRECISION AstraZeneca and the North West Innovations Agency to deliver this service. So if you are invited, please do attend – the NHS is here to give you the care you need”

Dr Aashish Vyas, from Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “The PRECISION Asthma Mobile Clinic is an innovative approach between the Lancashire and South Cumbria’s Tertiary severe asthma service, the NHS innovation agency and primary care teams to allow earlier access to care for the high vulnerability asthma patients in our region to the best and most effective treatments for their asthma. The pilot project aims to reduce severity of asthma in a high risk population who regularly have exacerbations leading to repeated prescriptions of oral steroid tablets, visits to hospital emergency departments and even hospital admissions.  Some of these patients are admitted to intensive care units with life threatening asthma. New treatments are now available to high risk patients to improve their quality of life, reduce the frequency and severity of their exacerbations. The pilot aims to provide care closer to home for our patients by using mobile units which can be located close to high density patient populations with an expert team undertaking the assessments and feeding back the results to the primary care teams, the specialist centre and most importantly to the patients with plan for ongoing care to for that individual.”

Tom Keith-Roach, Country President, AstraZeneca UK said: “We’re proud to assist in the recovery of essential NHS services after the disruption caused by the pandemic. The PRECISION Asthma Mobile Clinic provides essential capacity and specialist service capability to fast-track diagnosis and provide dedicated care for patients with severe asthma. Starting in Lancashire we hope to be able to reduce patient waiting lists and improve access to the treatment that patients suffering from this devastating disease deserve”. 

More information about asthma can be accessed via asthmalife.info , a series of interviews, documentaries and information created and funded by AstraZeneca UK.

If you are worried about your asthma, or feel your symptoms are not controlled, please contact your GP, pharmacist or healthcare professional who will be able to advise you.

If you need urgent medical advice but are unsure of where to go, visit NHS 111 online or call NHS 111 to be directed to the most appropriate care.

If you are experiencing an asthma attack and your reliever inhaler isn’t working, or you need emergency assistance, dial 999 for an ambulance immediately.

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