Pulmonary rehabilitation team celebrate national first

The pulmonary rehabilitation team at Harefield Hospital has become the first service in the country to receive full accreditation in a scheme run by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) in association with the British Lung Foundation and the British Thoracic Society.

Launched in 2018, the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Services Accreditation Scheme (PRSAS) aims to improve the quality of pulmonary rehabilitation services throughout the UK. 

Patients with long-term respiratory conditions often face shortness of breath, which can make it difficult to move around and carry out day-to-day activities without getting breathless. Pulmonary rehabilitation helps patients manage this through a tailored programme of exercise classes and education workshops designed to build their tolerance of physical activity and improve their quality of life.  

Dr Claire Nolan, senior research physiotherapist, said: “This accreditation is the equivalent of a Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection for pulmonary rehabilitation services. 

“There are about 250 pulmonary rehabilitation services in the UK, and Harefield pulmonary rehabilitation team is the first to achieve full accreditation.  

“It’s a mark of quality which we can highlight to clinical referrers and commissioners, and major kudos to be the first, and currently only, team to have met these standards. We can be proud that the clinical service we provide is second to none.”

Gaining accreditation took two years and involved hundreds of hours of work culminating in a two-day visit from three inspectors last October. The Harefield team then had to respond to key actions and recommendations set out by the inspectors which involved submitting further written evidence and audits for assessment.

Dr William Man, consultant chest physician, said: “I am so proud of the team. Obtaining accreditation was a long journey and every team member played an important part of the success. This will be a ‘stand-out’ in our careers. It’s very rare to have the opportunity to be the first at achieving something that is nationally recognised.

“It may not be as headline-grabbing as doing the first heart or lung transplant, but it is as good as it gets in the pulmonary rehabilitation world.”

Harefield Hospital hosts the largest single-site pulmonary rehabilitation programme in the UK with more than 1,000 referrals per year. Since launching the service in 2009, the hospital’s expert team has highlighted the value of pulmonary rehabilitation in improving the quality of life for people with respiratory conditions such as COPD. Several other centres around the country have adopted the Harefield model.