After COVID-19, people diagnosed with lung disease must get the support they need
The Health and Social Care Committee recently put out a call for evidence to ask people working in healthcare for their thoughts on what they believe the government’s priorities ought to be on delivering core NHS and care services during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond.
As a coalition of 34 members, including patients and carers, health care professional associations, the voluntary sector and industry, we felt that the Taskforce for Lung Health was ideally placed to share our thoughts with this inquiry. Many of our members have been on the front line of this pandemic, so we were keen for their voices to be heard in any conversations about what the NHS will look like in the future.
The inquiry asked for our thoughts on how to achieve a balance between coronavirus and otherwise ‘ordinary’ demand for health care. While the Taskforce’s five-year plan sets out recommendations for supporting people with lung disease, even before the pandemic, our members were all too aware that people with lung disease didn’t always get the support they need because of the huge constraints on NHS services. Therefore, as part of the Taskforce’s response, we urged policy makers to ensure that during and after the pandemic, the 10,000 people who are newly diagnosed with lung disease each week get the care and support that they need.
Sadly, we know that people living with lung disease are more vulnerable to coronavirus. So as part of the inquiry we urged the committee to understand that addressing chronic lung disease can help people avoid more severe complications.
We also made the case that redesigning the NHS and its services post-pandemic is an opportunity to be aspirational and innovative, rather than restoring services to how they were previously.
This inquiry is an example of how the Taskforce unites the respiratory community with one common voice. Our submission will now be considered by the committee as part of their evidence sessions. We look forward to hearing their response on how lung health will be prioritised within the NHS.
In the words of one of our own Industries Forum members, “in its position as a system-wide voice, the Taskforce holds the opportunity to be the credible system-wide voice to inform the inquiry on current learnings and practices which should become the ‘norm’”.