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NHS England publishes an Adult Breathlessness Pathway (pre-diagnosis) Support Tool

Thursday, May 4, 2023



NHS England has published an Adult Breathlessness Pathway (pre-diagnosis) Support Tool.

Breathlessness is a common presenting symptom in primary care with numerous causes. A delayed or inaccurate diagnosis means people don’t get the treatment they need and can end up in hospital unnecessarily.

As noted on the NHS England website, breathlessness accounts for 5% of presentations to the emergency department and approximately 4% of GP consultations. Despite this, delays in sufficient care and diagnosis are often experienced. It is hoped that this tool will assist in improving early and accurate diagnosis for improved patient wellbeing.

The main aim of this support tool is to align clinical practice in primary care with guideline recommendations in order to provide high-quality care, optimise patient outcomes and reduce unwarranted variation for patients experiencing breathlessness across England.

On the new support tool, Dr Helen Ward, Respiratory and Acute Medical Consultant Physician and West Midlands Respiratory Clinical Director said,

“This tool has been developed by a national multi-specialist expert group, including cardiology and respiratory, with the aim to ensure diagnostic tests and onward referrals are completed in a timely and systematic manner to support earlier diagnosis and management of patients with chronic breathlessness. I would encourage you to discuss how you can incorporate the support tool within your clinical pathways in your area to support these patients.”


The NHS England Adult Breathlessness Pathway (pre-diagnosis): Diagnostic Pathway Support Tool is available here.