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02 Apr 2024

Expanding pulmonary rehabilitation services: addressing workforce challenges

Expanding pulmonary rehabilitation services: addressing workforce challenges

In alignment with the NHS Long Term Plan's recognition of pulmonary rehabilitation as pivotal for managing chronic respiratory conditions, efforts are underway to enhance these services. However, only a small percentage of eligible patients are currently benefiting from such programmes due to workforce capacity constraints. 

A recent guidance document aims to tackle this issue by providing insights into workforce expansion considerations. Key points from the guidance include: 

  • Safe staffing levels: determining appropriate staffing levels is crucial to expanding pulmonary rehabilitation services without compromising quality or increasing waiting times 

  • Core Competencies: ensuring that multidisciplinary teams possess the necessary competencies to deliver safe and effective programs is essential. Continuous training and development opportunities are emphasized to maintain these competencies 

  • Diverse skill mix: recognising the importance of a diverse skill mix within teams, the guidance outlines the roles of both suitably qualified healthcare professionals and non-registered staff in delivering comprehensive care 

  • Patient-centred care: core competencies outlined in the document focus on personalised care, emphasising patient safety across assessment, exercise classes, education, and discharge planning 

  • Pathway development: integrating pulmonary rehabilitation services with broader respiratory care initiatives is highlighted as a crucial aspect of service development 

  • Future workforce development: providing placements for students and offering career progression opportunities for staff are identified as essential strategies for developing the future workforce in pulmonary rehabilitation services 

In summary, the guidance offers a comprehensive framework for addressing workforce challenges and expanding pulmonary rehabilitation services to benefit a larger population of patients with chronic respiratory conditions. 

Read the full guidance from NHS England here: NHS England » Guidance for growing and developing the pulmonary rehabilitation multidisciplinary team 

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