Increased need for spirometry tests highlighted by the Taskforce for Lung Health

5th December 2018

Education for Health welcomes a new call today by the Taskforce for Lung Health for a breath test to be more widely used in GP practices, community health services and hospitals to improve diagnosis of lung disease. The spirometry test can be used for routine diagnosis of lung conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and if used more widely within healthcare settings could improve the accuracy of diagnosis for millions of patients.

The Taskforce for Lung Health has identified that spirometry tests are currently underutilised in GP practices and diagnostic hubs due to lack of equipment and knowledge of how to conduct tests accurately. Due to the gradual progression of lung diseases such as COPD, many patients can be misdiagnosed or undiagnosed for long periods of time, and only learn of their condition when opportunities for early interventions may have passed.

For this reason it is key that use of spirometry tests across the country begins to increase.

Focus on lung health

Education Lead for COPD at Education for Health, Beverley Bostock, said “Early diagnosis for lung conditions is crucial, and increasing the use of spirometry tests can help achieve this by supporting history taking. If lung conditions are recognised in the early stages then measures can be put in place to improve a patient’s situation.”

Chris Loveridge, Education Lead for Spirometry at Education for Health added “We offer training courses to help healthcare professionals gain the knowledge and expertise required to accurately and correctly perform and interpret Spirometry readings. Over many years we have trained healthcare professionals in this field and there are now more healthcare professionals performing quality-assured spirometry than there was five to 10 years ago. It’s great to see this focus from the Taskforce for Lung Health; we commend any driver that encourages further training for the health workforce in this area.”

Challenging to access training

Dr Linda Edwards, Chief Executive at Education for Health, said “Spirometry is very important in ensuring accurate and early diagnosis of lung disease. We are delighted to see a focus on spirometry and correct diagnosis; as providers of this training and education for many years we have also advocated its importance.

“It can, at times, be challenging for healthcare professionals to access training due to the demands of practice. To help balance the demands between study, personal and professional commitments, all of our courses are part-time and many include elements of distance learning so that healthcare professionals can further develop their skills with minimum time away from practice.

“We will continue to promote the importance of high quality education and training for the healthcare workforce as part of our aim to improve the lives of those living with long term conditions.”

Next steps

To learn more about the training courses in Spirometry, COPD and Asthma, visit our course page on the Education for Health website: https://store.educationforhealth.org/

For full details of the five-year plan proposed by the Taskforce for Lung Health, please visit their website: https://www.blf.org.uk/taskforce