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How did you become a... Respiratory Nurse with the BLF?

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Interested in respiratory? Find out how a team working for the British Lung Foundation found their feet

Name - Terry and Shona: BLF Respiratory Nursing Team, Harrogate

Current post - Community and Hospital based Respiratory Nurses


Shona Shires

Shona Shires

Terry Robinson_BLF

Terry Robinson


Why did you became respiratory nurses?

There is a lack of knowledge across healthcare staff in primary and secondary care about how to manage respiratory patients. Many patients have a poor understanding of what their respiratory condition is, how to manage it and how to look after themselves appropriately.

Respiratory disease management has historically been the “Cinderella” disease as far as resources, research and profile is concerned, despite one in five of the population suffering from a respiratory condition.

We became respiratory nurses because we have a passion for caring for this type of patient and educating our peers, and also through the British Lung Foundation (BLF) raising this profile and being the patients’ voice.


What qualifications do you need?

At least five years experience post-general nursing qualification, with experience of nursing respiratory patients either in a hospital or a community setting. Ideally a post-graduate qualification in respiratory disease management and with an independent nurse prescribing qualification.


What do you like about your role?

That you can improve the quality of life of patients living with a respiratory condition, and help patients and families towards and at the end of their life.

The role offers the nurse autonomy and variety and can be very rewarding.


What are the challenges to this role?

As many patients are living longer, they often develop more than one long-term condition. Managing this type of patient effectively and helping them to be proactive in self managing can be a challenge, as respiratory conditions can often cause exhaustion, anxiety and depression. This potentially makes it increasingly difficult for them and their families to manage other long-term conditions.

GPs and practice nurses are generalists and see lots of other medical conditions. This makes it difficult for them to have a full understanding of what therapies and treatments are available currently for their patients. It can be a challenge to the specialist nurse to engage with some healthcare professionals, as they don’t always know what they don’t know!

Specialist nurses also have an increasing work load, with more expected for less. It can be frustrating if patients and their families can’t engage with their self-management plans and treatment.


What advice would you offer nurses who want to follow in your footsteps?

The nurse should shadow a respiratory nurse to gain a better understanding of what the role entails. They would also do well to spend some time with a community matron to see how respiratory patients live with their condition, and also how they cope with other long-term conditions.

There are so many benefits in becoming a BLF nurse. You get more access to education and networking opportunities as well as support from the BLF honorary nurse advisor and regional BLF Support and Development Managers.However, at the current time, due to increased demand, we are unable to accept any new applications for the BLF Nurse Programme. If you are already involved in supporting BLF activities in your local area and would like to know more about how you can work in partnership with the BLF, please contact Bethany Bateman on



Nursing Times Jobs has current roles in respiratory

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