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New NHS plan to speed up diagnosis of respiratory and heart conditions

Hundreds of thousands of patients could benefit from a quicker diagnosis for a range of respiratory and heart conditions, through ambitious new NHS plans for fast-tracked tests and checks

As part of measures announced by NHS England to speed up detection of major health problems, GP practices will be able to directly order diagnostic checks to identify a wide range of conditions, including COPD, asthma, cardiovascular disease and heart failure.
Up to one million patients could benefit from the accelerated access, reducing the need for a specialist consultation and speeding up potentially life-saving treatment and medication for patients.

The additional route for testing could also help ease pressure throughout the busier winter when demand is highest and respiratory illnesses are more prevalent.

‘We know how important it is to diagnose people with conditions like heart failure, COPD and asthma early, so they can get the treatment they need to manage their condition well, and to prevent more serious conditions or illness from developing,’ said NHS England’s Medical Director for Secondary Care and Transformation, Dr Vin Diwakar.

‘Our plans to enhance GP direct access will enable thousands more to get a vital diagnosis sooner, and by capitalising on the additional capacity provided by over a hundred community diagnostic centres offering a ‘one stop shop’ for tests in the community, patients can benefit from convenient triaging and testing near their homes – and importantly, avoid a hospital admission or trip to A&E.’

GPs will be able to refer patients with symptoms of heart and respiratory problems for various checks at their local hospital or local community diagnostic centre, which provides a one stop shop for scans and tests.

As well as diagnostic checks, ‘one stop shops’ can provide FeNO testing for asthma, blood tests to identify people at high-risk of heart failure and spirometry testing which can help diagnose lung conditions, including COPD.

‘Cutting waiting times is one of this government’s five top priorities and by speeding up access to tests for major conditions, such as cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, we can ensure patients get quicker diagnosis and treatment,’ said Minister of State for Health Will Quince.