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Call to recognise vital role of respiratory nurse specialists

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Nursing organisations have told MPs that specialist nurses can play a key role in reducing deaths from respiratory illnesses like asthma.

Source: Alamy

The Association of Respiratory Nurse Specialists and the Royal College of Nursing have warned that patients face a postcode lottery in trying to access specialist nurse support.

They said respiratory illnesses were frequently over-looked and services poorly funded, even though conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease affected one in five people.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Respiratory Health was established last year and is conducting an inquiry into why so many people are still dying from lung diseases. The group of MPs issued a call for written evidence on 11 October.

In their evidence to the inquiry, the RCN and the ARNS called for greater awareness of the effects of respiratory conditions and improved access to specialist nurses.

They also want to see more education for non-specialists, like practice nurses, who regularly come across respiratory disease, and said every clinical commissioning group should have a lead nurse for asthma.

Rebecca Sherrington

Rebecca Sherrington

In addition, they suggested the introduction of targeted screening programme to encourage early diagnosis of COPD.

ARNS chair Rebecca Sherrington said: “The UK’s mortality rates for respiratory conditions are among the highest in Europe. Nurses are vital in the deliver of respiratory care throughout the whole patient journey.”

The call comes ahead of findings from a national review of asthma deaths, which are due to be published by the Royal College of Physicians in April.


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