On Wednesday, the UK's first 'asthma bus' opened 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 accelerating respiratory appointments across the country, as part of a wider drive to speed up the delivery of operations and other non-urgent services, following disruptions caused by the pandemic.
According to a 2020 survey by Asthma UK, more than 1 in 20 asthma sufferers delayed emergency care during the pandemic and over a quarter (27.5%) have avoided receiving treatment from their GP.
AstraZeneca has been working with local NHS in Central Lancashire to provide additional asthma services in the region via The PRECISION Asthma Mobile Clinic, which will spend 10 weeks here, before travelling across the UK.
Starting at Chorley House, the bus will move in 4-weeks to Preston Healthport until the 17th December, and it is anticipated that the Clinic will allow for around 350-400 extra appointments to be conducted during its stay in Central Lancashire.
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.”
Currently across the NHS Central Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Groups area, which includes Chorley, South Ribble and Greater Preston, 6% of people suffer from asthma.
According to Public Health England data from 2021, all clinical commissioning groups across the 12 local authorities that fall within the Lancashire County Council area also have a significantly higher level of asthma prevalence compared to the national average across England.
Moreover, in the period 2017-2019, there were 1,492 deaths of people aged under-75 in the Lancashire-12 area related to respiratory disease, again significantly higher than the national average across England.
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”.
On the 'asthama bus', 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 the 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.
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.
It is also 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, according to the 2020 survey conducted by Asthma UK.
More information about asthma can be accessed via asthmalife.info, where you may find a series of interviews, documentaries and information created and funded by AstraZeneca UK.