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New service to support patients who have an asthma emergency

12th Feb 2020

Patients who experience an asthma emergency are set to get more support following the launch of a new service delivered by the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) in collaboration with local GP practices and Clinical Commissioning Groups. 

An acute asthma service has begun in the Emergency Department at NNUH, which aims to provide more support and education for adults who have experienced a severe asthma attack.

Asthma is a common lung condition that causes occasional breathing difficulties and can cause problems if patients do not follow their treatment plan or ignore symptoms.

Over the last five years there has been a 26% increase in the number of patients attending ED with asthma. However, patients do not always attend a follow-up appointment with their GP and 20% of patients end up re-attending as an emergency with a repeat asthma exacerbation.

Experts in respiratory medicine at NNUH have joined forces with primary care staff and Clinical Commissioning Groups to start a seven day a week pilot for 12 months to extend asthma assessment and education into ED.

Sadiyah Hand, Consultant Respiratory Physician at NNUH, said: “Our aim is to capture those patients when they first attend and make sure they do not re-attend by helping them with good education and support. 

“This could mean a 20% drop in asthma attendances in ED.  This could also mean a better outcome for asthma sufferers throughout the Norfolk area and a reversal in the recently seen increase in mortality rate of this fully treatable disease.”

As part of the pilot, primary care staff across central Norfolk will be identifying asthmatic patients who have not had an annual review by a nurse but who have recently used urgent care services. Staff will be working with these patients to identify the barriers to them having their annual reviews and will be undertaking these with them.

Additional nursing and consultant capacity will also enable NNUH to hold outpatient respiratory clinics in three GP practices, The Market Surgery in Aylsham, Gurney Surgery in Norwich and Newton Flotman Surgery. The aim is to provide outpatient respiratory clinics closer to home for patients and enable increased capacity in an acute care setting.

Mark Burgis, Locality Director for the NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups of Norwich, South Norfolk and North Norfolk said: “We are delighted to be working with the NNUH on this improved service for patients who have experienced an asthma emergency. 

“This pilot will help strengthen the links between primary care and the acute respiratory service. Provision of extra clinics in the community will allow for increased capacity for urgent cases to be assessed and treated in an acute hospital setting. These new outpatient respiratory clinics taking place in GP practices will provide improved support for patients with asthma closer to home and help them to better manage their condition.”

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