Respiratory medicine encompasses a number of conditions, including diseases of the upper airway (e.g. sleep apnoea) through to those in the large and small airways (e.g. asthma). Respiratory illnesses are among the most common reasons to consult a GP, and accounted for a third of acute hospital admissions, even before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Admissions for respiratory conditions are increasing at around 13% every year. Admissions peak significantly during the winter months, leading to ‘winter pressures’ for respiratory clinicians and their trusts.

The GIRFT national report contains practical steps and advice – based on data and best practice – to help trusts improve care for patients with common conditions such as asthma, pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), as well as better manage patient demand and optimise capacity, with a focus on measures which can help meet the challenges of the post-COVID world.

Dr Martin Allen MBE

Clinical Lead for Respiratory

Martin has been a consultant physician at University Hospital of North Midlands for the past 25 years, having previously worked as a consultant in Bradford for three years. He was also a senior registrar in Yorkshire.

His main research has been in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and sleep, but he also has a major interest in respiratory physiology, currently chairing the joint British Thoracic Society (BTS) and Association for Respiratory, Technology and Physiology (ARTP) board.

He chairs the Respiratory Expert Working Group on coding for NHS Digital and sits of the Royal College of Physicians’ commissioning group, together with the British Thoracic Society and Respiratory Long Term Plan Boards.

In September 2020 he was appointed as NHS England’s national specialty adviser for physiological measurements, with a specific remit for cardio-respiratory diagnostics, and is currently also acting as the interim  national clinical director for respiratory medicine for NHSE.

In June 2021, he was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday honours for services to the NHS, particularly during COVID-19.

GIRFT respiratory report outlines measures to help teams manage demand and capacity to meet post-COVID challenges

The new national report for respiratory medicine published by the Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT) programme calls for acute trusts to establish dedicated non-invasive ventilation (NIV) units – along with the right infrastructure to support it – to care for people with conditions like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

More patients’ lives could be saved if trusts can bridge the gap in provision of NIV – at the time of the review, just 77 acute trusts in England had dedicated NIV beds.

Other key recommendations from thee report include establishing respiratory support units (RSUs) to provide the best possible care for COVID-19 and post COVID-19 patients; improving care for patients with asthma, COPD, pneumonia and pleural disease and developing a sustainable solution to deal with winter pressures.

Useful information

  • In December 2023, NHS England published guidance for enhancing GP direct access to diagnostic tests for patients with clinical features of suspected chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma or heart failure. Click here to read or download.

Find out more about GIRFT’s data-led approach and best practice resources:

In March 2021, GIRFT published its national speciality report for Respiratory:

Click above to view the pdf report

Watch the video about the Respiratory report…

Click above to play the Respiratory national report video

Respiratory Academy Resources