The West of England and South West AHSNs, alongside the South West Severe Asthma Network (SWSAN), have been working with 10 hospital trusts across the South West of England to improve asthma pathways and enhance access to innovative treatments for adult patients.

A new evaluation shows the collaborative project, which was awarded Pathway Transformation Funding for a one year project from September 2021, to increase regional uptake of asthma biological therapies (Reslizumab, Benralizumab, Mepolizumab and Omalizumab), has achieved a number of positive results:

  • 961 patients are now receiving biologic therapies
  • 294 (of the 961) new patients started biologic therapy during the project
  • 87% of patients are now administering biologics at home
  • A reduced time from referral to commencement of biologics treatment
  • 36% reduction in asthma ED attendance for patients on biologics (over 2 years)
  • 9 educational webinars delivered with 80+ attendees
  • Developed and consolidated the asthma Multi-Disciplinary Teams (MDTs) across the 10 acute sites, with all sites being linked with one of the four nominated severe asthma centres.
  • A tool (RUBIC) was developed to enable primary care clinicians to refer directly to the severe asthma MDT meeting. The number of practices using RUBIC is growing with eight practices using it, and five further practices keen to start.
  • All sites have registered for ‘My Asthma Biologics’ app.

Biological therapies can transform patient lives by reducing long-term side effects of other asthma treatments, help patients not responding to other treatments and reduce the number of exacerbations and life-threatening asthma attacks. Asthma biologics were selected as one element of the national Rapid Uptake Products programme – the programme, delivered by AHSNs, sought to increase uptake of NICE-approved diagnostics and treatments that have lower than expected uptake.

The work undertaken by the AHSNs and SWSAN also links to the NHS Long Term Plan’s respiratory ambitions “to improve the lives and outcomes of people with respiratory disease by diagnosing and treating conditions earlier and making sure that people with respiratory disease are receiving the right medication.”

Clare Evans, Deputy Director of Service and System Transformation at the West of England AHSN said:

“It’s been a journey of collaboration and perseverance. The clinical teams have embraced the challenge to implement MDTs and work as a network to deliver high quality care and ensure the right people receive the best treatment option. We’ve created a foundation for further improvement work and are proud to have been involved”.

Dr Robert Stone, Consultant Respiratory Physician and Clinical Lead for the SWSAN said:

“The project has proved to be highly successful. It has facilitated real improvements in access to and delivery of care for patients with severe asthma across the region and, moreover, has truly helped to galvanise our network into a ‘team of teams’, spawning many ongoing initiatives that will doubtless deliver further benefits in time”.

Find out more about our work on asthma biologics.

Supporting improvements to asthma care pathways in paediatrics

Since September 2021, the West of England and South West AHSNs and Bristol Royal Hospital for Children have also supported a paediatric asthma project to improve care pathways and access to biologic therapies for children and young people. View our summary infographic for key project outcomes: 

Listen to asthma patient Jo Beechcroft explain how access to biologic therapies is changing her life in a podcast from the AHSN Network.

This work took place alongside the launch, in June 2022, of a new asthma consensus pathway (developed by Oxford AHSN). The pathway intends to be a blueprint, guiding clinicians, managers and commissioners on what optimal asthma care should look like across the entire patient journey and leading to real improvements in outcomes. Access full and summary versions of the pathway.

The West of England AHSN has also been transforming asthma care through the adoption and spread of FeNO testing. FeNO devices measure fractional exhaled nitric oxide in the breath of patients. This provides an indication of the level of inflammation in the lungs, a marker which helps make the diagnosis of asthma and also helps to define the best initial treatment. We’ve worked with our three integrated care systems to improve patient access to faster and more effective testing. Read more in our FeNO case study.

Posted on January 24, 2023

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