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Health

The Morecambe Bay Respiratory Network: An Innovative Respiratory Care Partnership

Dr Patrick Haslam

[A] respiratory care partnership between primary, secondary and community care providers across Morecambe Bay is aiming to improve the time a patient waits between referral and treatment, for one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the region.

The Respiratory team at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) as well as the Radiology department and Laboratory Services have been working with local GPs to develop the Morecambe Bay Respiratory Network (MBRN) model. The engagement from teams has been very positive and productive from the start.

Following consultation with patients and clinicians from across the many different teams who care for patients with chronic respiratory disease, a clinical consensus has emerged over the last 18 months. A truly integrated model of care has been designed which seeks to improve the patient journey and reduce the overall demand on the system. Upskilling and resourcing Primary Care teams, providing regular input from specialist colleagues (in the form of monthly multi-disciplinary team meetings (MDTs) based in Primary Care) and moving towards shared care pathways and documentation have been some of the key interventions so far.

The MBRN is already underway in a phase 1 roll-out and has seen five Morecambe Bay GP’s (based in five Integrated Care Communities) upskilled in respiratory medicine, with direct access to lung function testing and CT imaging.  MDT’s are being held in North Lancashire and Barrow localities with great success, both for patients and clinicians.

Dr Patrick Haslam, Clinical Lead for the MBRN said: “We’ve had amazing support and engagement from UHMBT, everyone involved has been keen to work together and improve the care for patients with respiratory diseases. Ultimately it has been the patients who have benefited most but, as clinicians, we have really enjoyed this way of integrated working.”

Tim Gatheral, Respiratory Consultant at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, has helped lead the partnership between Primary and Secondary Care and is keen to see respiratory issues identified much earlier in the patient journey, he said: “I see it as future proofing, if we don’t do anything new and we are trying to get more and more people into bottleneck clinics, we can’t sustain things going forward.

“We hope with better education we can identify disease earlier, stop it from getting to the point where they have to come into hospital, have more community services to stop people coming in, and to reduce the clinic burden so that we can see people we need to see more quickly. We need to be innovative so provide the best care for local people.

“What makes this partnership exciting is that UHMBT is the main secondary care centre for the whole of Morecambe Bay with minimal sharing between other Hospital Trusts. This makes it a really good test bed for effectiveness of the integrated care pathway, as opposed to complex urban areas with multiple healthcare providers.

“The main thing is that there has been so much enthusiasm and support from primary care, and our managerial colleagues have been very supportive in that.”

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