Foreword: Chair of the Taskforce

A man, Henry Gregg in a shirt and jacket looking into the camera

The first five years of the Taskforce for Lung Health have been nothing short of remarkable. As we reflect upon our journey, it is with a profound sense of pride that we present the Taskforce for Lung Health’s Five-Year on Report. Thank you for the dedication, collaboration, and commitment of all those who have been part of the Taskforce.

Our journey began in 2018 with a clear and ambitious mission – to improve the nation’s lung health. Over these five years, we have worked tirelessly to unite the respiratory sector, creating the largest-ever collaboration of its kind. Our collective vision was to elevate the importance of lung health within the NHS, and we have succeeded. Respiratory illness now stands at the very heart of NHS and government strategy, solidifying its place in the NHS Long Term Plan and the Major Conditions Strategy.

These significant achievements were made possible through the collective campaigning efforts of 43 key stakeholders, 25 industry representatives, and the invaluable input from patient and carer reps. Together, we have achieved several milestones that have reshaped the landscape of lung health:

  • Engaging with all 42 Integrated Care Systems (ICSs): The cornerstone of our approach has been the engagement of all 42 ICSs, ensuring that respiratory health remains a top priority in every region. By nurturing local commitment to lung health, we have ensured that the impact of our efforts extends to communities across the nation.
  • Establishing the national Lung Health Data Tracker: In our data-driven age, information is power. We recognised this and acted accordingly by establishing the national Lung Health Data Tracker. This tool has proven invaluable, providing real-time insights into the state of lung health in the UK.
  • Commissioning research by Imperial College London to improve patient pathways for lung conditions: Research forms the bedrock of informed decision-making. Commissioning research by Imperial College London into patient pathways with lung conditions was a pivotal step. It has empowered us with the knowledge needed to shape effective policies and interventions.
  • Successfully executing a public-facing lung health awareness campaign in Birmingham: Birmingham became the canvas for our public-facing lung health awareness campaign. The #BreatheinBrum initiative ignited local engagement, fostering a deeper understanding of the importance of lung health and the value of early diagnosis.

These milestones have translated into tangible policy influencing outcomes, including the development of an NHS Adult Breathlessness Pathway, revised asthma guidelines, expanded access to Nintedanib for Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, and the publication of the Accelerated Access Collaborative consensus pathway for severe asthma.

As we look ahead, our mission remains resolute – to continue enhancing the lives of those living with lung health conditions. We are committed to building upon the progress we have made and ensuring that respiratory care remains a national priority, especially in the face of evolving healthcare landscapes and challenging times. The Taskforce’s role in influencing policy and advocating for lung health has never been more critical, given the dynamic changes in the political and healthcare arena.

Policy Influencing Achievements

Our milestones have not remained isolated achievements but have translated into policy influencing outcomes that continue to impact the lives of individuals living with lung conditions across the UK. These outcomes include:

  • NHS Adult Breathlessness Pathway: Breathing is fundamental to life, and swift diagnosis is vital when breathlessness becomes a concern. Through our efforts, we have played a pivotal role in shaping the development of an NHS Adult Breathlessness Pathway, providing a clear roadmap to diagnosis. Pilot programs are already underway in three ICSs, marking the beginning of a significant shift in the way breathlessness is addressed within the NHS.
  • Revised Asthma Guidelines: Asthma is a widespread respiratory condition, and its management is of paramount importance. Scheduled for publication in July 2024, revised asthma guidelines will ensure that individuals with asthma receive the best possible care.
  • Expanded Access to Nintedanib: Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis is a debilitating condition, and the expansion of eligibility for Nintedanib is a significant win. This expansion ensures that thousands of individuals living with this disease can access a drug that can slow its progression.
  • Accelerated Access to Biologics: Severe asthma can be a challenging condition to manage. Our efforts have led to the publication of the Accelerated Access Collaborative consensus pathway, which aims to improve access to biologics for individuals with severe asthma.
  • Targeted Lung Health Checks: Prevention and early detection are vital aspects of lung health. We have facilitated access to targeted lung health checks, ensuring that all smokers and ex-smokers aged 55-74 have access to these crucial screenings.

Building Upon Our Achievements

As we stand at this juncture, it is essential to recognise that our work is far from complete. Our journey is ongoing, and our commitment to enhancing lung health remains unwavering. The coming years will present both challenges and opportunities, and we are prepared to meet them head-on. I am delighted that our members and supporters have renewed the Taskforce for a further two years.

In the face of an evolving healthcare landscape and political uncertainty, the Taskforce for Lung Health is transitioning to a responsive two-year program. This shift acknowledges the need for adaptability as we focus on three core themes: diagnosis, access to treatment, and workforce.

Our streamlined approach aims to maximise engagement with political stakeholders, especially with the impending general election in 2024. By concentrating on high-level policy goals, we can facilitate substantial system changes effectively.

As we embrace the challenges and opportunities ahead, I am proud to present our Five-Year on Report. It serves as a comprehensive account of our journey, our achievements, and our aspirations for the future. Together, we will continue to elevate the importance of lung health, making a lasting impact on the lives of individuals living with lung conditions.

The Chair of the Taskforce is Henry Gregg.