How Right to Rehab is acting as a movement for change

The Taskforce for Lung Health has been collaborating with a coalition of charities and academics to promote everyone’s right to access rehabilitation. The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP), a member of the Taskforce for Lung Health, launched the Right to Rehab campaign in Parliament in February.

Robin Hinks, Research and Policy Officer from the CSP, explains why it is time to take action to ensure that everyone gets access to the rehabilitation they need.

Everyone should have access to high quality, personalised community rehabilitation – when they need it. The Right to Rehab campaign is about ensuring that when someone is diagnosed with a condition that requires rehabilitation, or is discharged from hospital as a result of that condition, they have the tools they need to continue to live well.

Research by CSP found almost half (44%) of people who did not receive such support felt “abandoned by the system”. People deserve to have access to the best available care , whenever they may need this. Our campaign is about taking action to actively drive this change forward. 

Pulmonary rehabilition has great results

For a lot of people with lung disease, pulmonary rehabilitation (PR), has been proven to have great results. For some people, it can be as effective as medication. It is shocking, therefore, that 85% of people with lung disease deemed eligible for pulmonary rehabilitation are not referred for it.

It is widely accepted that pulmonary rehabilitation is life-changing for a lot of patients with lung disease and can help people manage their condition. For instance, for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), studies show that 90% of patients who complete pulmonary rehabilitation spend fewer days in hospital. It also hugely improves quality of life by helping people to be fit, active and mobile.

Hospital admission costs could be reduced

Rehabilitation is often just as important as the treatment received in hospital. A lot of patients with lung conditions experience anxiety and depression, as managing symptoms on a day to day basis can be challenging. Out of the people we spoke to who had received insufficient care after diagnosis or a hospital admission, 2 in 5 (40%) said that their mental health had worsened. 

This also translates to cost. COPD costs the NHS £800 million per year and is the 2nd largest cause of emergency admissions. If everyone with COPD who was eligible for pulmonary rehabilitation received it, emergency admissions for COPD would be cut by 13%.

It is hard to imagine, therefore, why people are not being offered access to pulmonary rehabilitation, when the benefits are so clearly laid out for everyone to see. It is not acceptable that we continue to miss opportunities to improve lives.

Support the Right to Rehab campaign

At our Right to Rehab Day of Action in Westminster, we asked MPs to ensure the NHS delivers on our right to community rehabilitation. The ‘Community Rehabilitation: Live Well for Longer’ report warns that failing to provide community rehabilitation services can have devastating consequences for people’s lives, and bring greater costs for the NHS and social care systems.

We are now calling on everyone to support our Right to Rehab campaign, to make sure that everyone who may benefit from community rehabilitation can access life changing services if and when they need them.

Improving access to pulmonary rehabilitation is one of the recommendations of the Taskforce for Lung Health. Support the Right to Rehab campaign by sharing your  pulmonary rehabilitation stories using the hashtag #RightToRehab or getting in touch with the taskforce at [email protected]


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28 April 2020