I am a passionate believer in strength in numbers, and this is exactly where I think the power of the Taskforce for Lung Health lies. Each of the member organisations has long been calling for changes to services and practice which would benefit lung patients. But they have never before come together in this way to speak with one voice across the whole patient pathway.
The data we are able to access must improve if we are to have a real understanding of how many respiratory specialist nurses we have working currently.
The Taskforce is a real opportunity to take a collaborative approach to shaping and leading change in respiratory clinical practice. In respiratory care, there is much that we want to see: guidelines being consistently and universally followed; service specifications being implemented for all areas of practice; data being captured which makes a real difference to the quality of care and services we can provide.
As the Taskforce moves from taking evidence on prevention and diagnosis of lung disease, into treatment and management, it is a good opportunity to reflect on why we need to do this exercise.
We know that we have big issues to tackle within respiratory. For example, we know that we have a real lack of data relating to workforce. The data we are able to collect and access must improve if we are to have a real understanding of how many respiratory community matrons and respiratory specialist nurses we have working currently, let alone to then apply this knowledge to the shortfall in workforce needed to meet future lung patient need. We also know that we have significant issues coming down the pipeline with training of specialist and advanced nurses in order for lung patients to have access to the level of specialism they need and deserve from nurses who understand and are trained to meet their specific needs.
I have high hopes that the Taskforce will have a real impact in uniting the voice of the respiratory community behind one banner.
To achieve change in these areas, and the many other challenges for improving respiratory patient outcomes, we need to hear from as many colleagues as possible. We want to know what evidence is out there that shows policy and service interventions making a real difference to respiratory care.
Pulling together the strongest evidence base we can, with real-world examples of innovative and effective good practice, is the greatest way we can attract real attention with policy makers nationally and decision makers locally. We also need evidence that will relate to how patients experience care on the ground, and not just theoretical changes with no real-world application. The more people we hear from, the more robust and authoritative the Taskforce’s final recommendations will be.
I have high hopes that the Taskforce will have a real impact in uniting the voice of the respiratory community behind one banner. We have seen the power of similar joint initiatives, such as the success of smoke-free coalitions in bringing about real and lasting policy change and preventing vast numbers of future cases of lung disease. The Taskforce has potential to become a united force for the benefit of everyone with lung disease, now and in the future.
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You can respond to the Taskforce’s call for evidence on treatment and medicines, living with a lung disease and end of life, by visiting www.blf.org.uk/taskforce/evidence. This will be open until 18th May 2018.
Wendy Preston is Head of Nursing Practice, RCN, Honorary Nurse Consultant, George Eliot Hospital, Warwickshire, and Chair of the Association of Respiratory Nurses (ARNS): www.arns.co.uk