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LUNG HEALTH: How one hospital is battling the backlog whilst keeping the most vulnerable patients safe


Learning about lung health - we speak to the respiratory team at James Cook University Hospital about protecting your lungs as we learn to live alongside coronavirus.

Dealing with the backlog of NHS treatment in a safe way is the next mountain to climb for our health service. But one trust in the North East has devised a new way of delivering crucial lung tests for patients without them ever having to leave their car, saving time, money and protecting the health of them and the staff.

Patients requiring the test can now use the drive-through service at The James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough, which was opened by South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in May.

Spirometry is a simple test used to assess how well lungs work by measuring how much air is inhaled and how much and how quickly it is exhaled. Spirometry is used to diagnose asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other conditions that affect breathing.

Patients are given an appointment time to attend the drive-through clinic. Once they have pulled up, the respiratory nurse will come to the car and give the patient their test through car window.

The test only takes minutes to complete after which the patient can drive away. The aim of the service is to enable more people to be safely seen in shorter space of time.

The drive-through has been set up by Janet Leight, respiratory clinical lead at South Tees.

Janet said: "We are really pleased to be able to offer this service. One advantage is that it allows us to include clinically vulnerable patients, who no longer have to come into the hospital to attend the clinic. They can have the test in the comfort of their own car."

Rehan Mustafa, respiratory clinical director, said: "This new innovation is part of the trust's continuing focus on addressing the needs of anybody whose non-urgent care has been disrupted by the pandemic."

Before coronavirus you might not have thought that much about the health of your lungs. Like other respiratory illnesses, COVID-19 can cause lasting lung damage which can have a serious impact on those already living with lung conditions. Last week, in what is considered a positive move for respiratory health, some councils made the move to ban smoking outdoors in public places, with many more expected to follow.


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