Our Diagnosis Working Group

The Diagnosis working group will work to ensure that all patients can receive a timely and accurate diagnosis. Early detection of a lung disease means that patients can access the appropriate care and treatments they need to improve symptoms and prevent acute or long-term deterioration.

In the last 5 years, the Diagnosis working group has achieved remarkable progress, enabling those living with lung diseases earlier access to treatment helping them to manage their conditions. The Diagnosis working group played a critical role in the development of the Adult Breathlessness pathway (pre-diagnosis), which has been designed to optimise patient outcomes and align clinical practice across boundaries. You can read more about the past achievements of the Diagnosis working group here in Our Five Year on Report.

This working group will build upon these achievements, engaging with political stakeholders, particularly with the upcoming 2024 general election.

Going forward the priorities of the Diagnosis working group will be:

  • Securing nationwide rollout of the Breathlessness Pathway: Pilot programmes are underway in 3 ICSs. This working group will work to ensure that this pathway is rolled out in all 42 ICSs to ensure all patients can receive a prompt diagnosis.
  • Reducing targets for treatment – Work towards fully implementing, reporting on and then, where possible, reducing the current breathlessness pathway’s recommendation to provide a diagnosis and management plan within six months of presentation to the health service.
  • Expanding access to spirometry testing: Working to reduce the diagnosis backlog by supporting universal access to quality-assured spirometry.  Spirometry is a crucial test for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma. The working group will focus on restoring spirometry to pre-pandemic levels, as this vital test was paused during the pandemic, resulting in a 51% reduction in COPD diagnosis in 2022.
  • Expanding access to FeNo Testing: Working to ensure that FeNO testing is available across England, which NICE recommends for the diagnosis of asthma. Worryingly, research conducted by Asthma + Lung UK exemplified that only 15% of people with asthma had ever heard of FeNO, which suggests many people are being diagnosed without the recommended tests.
  • Expanding Targeted Lung Health Checks and ensuring a clear patient pathway: Targeted Lung Health Checks (TLHCs)  are a national screening programme for those aged between 55-75 years old, with a history of smoking, who are at an elevated risk of lung cancer. This working group will work to expand the TLHC programme to include spirometry and improve the diagnosis of a wider range of lung conditions. These lung tests currently pick up people with undiagnosed lung conditions, a priority will be ensuring these people have a clear patient pathway so they can access the diagnosis, support and treatments they require.
  • Working with Integrated Care Systems (ICSs): Develop and share best practices across the Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) through methods such as spirometry backlog webinars and/or an ICSs pilot group. There is now a host of resources available to support the restart of spirometry in clinical practice here.
  • Access to CT Scanning – Campaigning to reduce the current 8-15 month wait for CT scans, including the time it takes to be referred, ensuring that individuals in need can access critical CT scans swiftly and efficiently.
  • Access to Diagnosis Specialists – Expanding access to specialists so patients are cared by the appropriate diagnosis respiratory specialists, reducing waiting times for an early and accurate diagnosis.
  • Children and Young People – Working towards improving early and accurate diagnosis of asthma in CYP.  Out of 15 countries in Europe, including Spain and France, the UK has the worst death rate for asthma in children and young people aged between 10 and 24 years old.  A priority of this working group is ensuring that all children can receive a prompt diagnosis, so they can access vital care and support.

The Diagnosis working group has a wide membership of patient representatives, professional bodies, patients, organisations, and industry partners. The group’s chairs can be found on our ‘About Us’ page.