How a group of respiratory HCPs are planning to dramatically reduce patient hospital admissions.

A Network of HCPs, KOLs and patient advocates have been re-thinking respiratory care across Staffordshire Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) and neighbouring areas. As well as improving patient outcomes and enhancing the patient journey through integrated ‘one-stop’ clinics, the Respiratory Leaders Network share knowledge and coordinate efforts between local hospitals, centralising respiratory care and embracing new digital technologies. The Network continues to  welcome likeminded HCPs involved in respiratory care, and will persevere in aligning Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Trust services, ensuring respiratory care has a robust footing in an uncertain time for the NHS.

The primary aim of the group, who have been meeting quarterly since its initiation by Samantha Young and Jonathan Davies in September 2015, is to improve current respiratory care through enhancing communication between a broad range of care providers.

Samantha and Jonathan wanted to find an innovative and collaborative way to support the delivery of patient care and provide a networking platform for all HCPs working within respiratory care. Members of the Respiratory Leaders Network are made up from a wide mix of NHS backgrounds including primary and secondary care providers, from across Staffordshire and parts of Shropshire, Birmingham and Wolverhampton. The multi-disciplinary Network includes Consultants; Respiratory Nurse Specialists from across primary, secondary and community teams; NHS commissioners; and palliative care and patient advocates.

Dr Mukesh Singh

The chair of the Staffordshire Network branch, Dr Mukesh Singh, who is a senior partner in the Horse Fair Practice, Rugeley, and is the Respiratory lead for the Staffordshire STP, is passionate about integrated, holistic respiratory care in the community. He is helping the Network in the development of a consistent Staffordshire-wide respiratory strategy. 

Dr Singh believes this Network has already helped empower HCPs, as the meetings allow discussion of challenging cases, opportunities for training and scrutiny of current respiratory services, allowing the group to assess what can be done better. The Network have plans to extend their reach, targeting HCPs who share their aims to progress respiratory care.

In the future, the Network also aims to increase the use of ‘one-stop services’ within the community. These joint clinics between Trusts ensure that a patient attending existing consultant-led respiratory clinics can access support from mental health and social services as well as palliative care if needed, alongside respiratory nurses and consultants. This saves the patient having to go to several different clinics.

Dr Singh has already seen great success in the past with consultant-led one-stop clinics: between 2012 and 2014, their use coincided with “reduced hospital admissions by, on average, 35%”, according to Dr Singh. He believes that integrated care reduced patient burden and eased strain on NHS as patients tended to only go to hospital when absolutely necessary.

Another impressive achievement of the Network is the coordination of 6 local CCGs which, from April 2020 onwards, will integrate their strategy, though will still retain their individual identities. This cohesive approach will ensure continuity of care for patients. The group shall remain working to optimise the services offered to patients in order to improve patient outcomes.

Integration of digital strategies towards patient care also presents many opportunities for the Network to enhance patient care, as well as challenges they are hoping to overcome as a team. The Network are working closely with Digital Health, a firm branching from NHS Stoke-on-Trent which provides resources for HCPs and patients embracing these new resources. With the use of video consultancy, mobile apps, and wearable technology dramatically rising, the Network want to remain able to anticipate the future and be prepared.

The respiratory network continues to grow and develop as a result of the dedication of those HCPs who continually devote their own time outside of their busy working lives.

The whole Teva team involved in supporting this important and developing initiative are proud of the Network’s achievements, particularly establishing themselves as a well-founded voice within the healthcare system.

Jonathan Davies and Samantha Young