Pulmonary rehabilitation: a review of 2021

At Taskforce for Lung Health we’re striving to make sure people with a lung condition are able to live full and active lives and do the things that are important to them and their families. Here’s an update from our PR Working Group Co-Chairs on what happened in 2021.

Co-Chairs of the Taskforce for Lung Health pulmonary rehabilitation working group:

  • Rachael Colclough, Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Respiratory Care  
  • Rachel Newton, Chartered Society of Physiotherapy

PR services have been severely interrupted by the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite many providers endeavouring to make the switch to online provision, services’ capacity has been disrupted by staffing shortages, clinicians’ redeployment to acute care services and needing to provide long-COVID related rehabilitation. As a consequence, our vision to see both improved access and quality of PR provision remains compromised, as does the ambitions set out in the Long Term Plan. Funding allowances remain uncertain and piecemeal despite the high and rising demands on PR services and this will undoubtedly limit progress.

The move to online provision has provided an important service to patients in the absence of comprehensive face-to-face PR. However, only offering remote provision is not a long-term solution; it is leaving too many people missing out and adding to health inequalities. The best outcomes from PR for people with lung disease come from the completion, and maintenance, of face-to-face PR, complemented with remote and digital options, if appropriate, where it improves access and meets patients’ individual needs.

That is why this year, and in 2022, we will continue to push for the resumption and expansion of in-person services, which incorporate remote options as part of a hybrid model, delivered to the high-quality standards all patients deserve.

In 2021, in support of our rally-call for PR, Taskforce have produced briefing packs for MPs,  calling on them to press their local areas for increased provision. This draws on the latest published NACAP audit data. We have also created an information video for patients explaining the benefits of participating in PR that we have asked our members to help distribute widely over the coming months.

Next year, we look forward to seeing NHS England’s new five year vision for PR as this is such a crucial aspect of helping people with lung disease to live well.

Read our three years on report here

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20 January 2022