Asthma is a common health condition, affecting more than 5.4 million people in the UK. Up to 200,000 people in the UK have uncontrolled or severe asthma, which has a huge impact on the lives of patients and their families. Many are frequently admitted to hospital as an emergency or have potentially life-threatening severe asthma attacks. Patients with severe asthma may also experience serious side-effects from extended periods on high-dose steroid-based medication. (Source: Asthma + Lung UK)
Many severe asthma attacks and medication side-effects could be avoided through improvements to asthma care such as through early diagnosis, improved treatment, and self-management education. Asthma and respiratory disease are a key clinical priority for the NHS, as identified in the NHS Long Term Plan.
As a key partner of NHS England’s Accelerated Access Collaborative (AAC), the AHSN Network has supported the rollout of asthma biologics as part of the AAC Rapid Uptake Products (RUP) programme.
The programme aimed to improve patient care and outcomes through enhanced access to diagnostics and treatments for severe asthma. Key impacts include:
- More than 4,690 new patients began receiving life-changing biologic therapies.
- Around 3,000 fewer patients are now receiving high-dose (3g or more) oral steroids each month.
- More than 140 patients using the myAsthmaBiologics app which supports patients prescribed asthma biologics to manage their asthma at home and allows their clinical teams to monitor them remotely.
- 9 Pathway Transformation Fund projects were completed to support wider adoption of asthma biologics.
For the clinical workforce delivering asthma care the programme has supported learning, training and development.
- More than 1,000 people attended live webinars on asthma biologics while 493 people completed e-learning modules.
- The Asthma Biologics toolkit had more than 21,600 users during the two-year programme.
- The asthma consensus pathway was launched, providing a new set of standards based on best practice to guide how to deliver optimal care across the entire patient journey.
The national Asthma Biologics programme has now completed and has made substantial contributions to the transformation of asthma care in England while significantly increasing the access to and adoption of asthma biologics. Learning from the FeNO and Asthma Biologics AHSN programmes is being fed into the development of NICE/SIGN/British Thoracic Society asthma guidance, expected in 2024, offering real world insights to implementation considerations.
There are opportunities to continue this work and improve asthma care by enhancing rollout of the innovations and ensure more patients can benefit. The toolkits, training modules and other resources created during the programme will remain accessible to NHS clinicians following the end of the AHSN programme.
The AHSN Network is transitioning to support healthcare inequalities as a national priority as part of NHS England’s Innovation for Healthcare Inequalities Programme (InHIP). Building on the transforming asthma pathways work, a number of AHSNs will support the respiratory aspect of the NHS England Core20PLUS5 approach, continuing to utilise the implementation and educational resources developed for the Asthma Biologics national programme.