Page last updated: 26 May, 2022, 3:37pm
Long COVID Mobile Respiratory Van
The NHS in Essex has teamed up with Ford and local community health leaders to identify and assess the effects of ‘long COVID’ by offering a mobile clinic specialising in spirometry testing using the Ford Transit Van.
Read the below Q and A to find out more about the mobile clinic.
Why is this being rolled out and how will this benefit local people?
Many people are reporting ongoing breathing difficulties. When COVID-19 struck, key respiratory tests i.e. spirometry became high risk tests and could not be performed and COVID-19.
Building on the success of the Essex Vax Van, we are launching a similar outreach model to help make sure residents get the right care for breathlessness linked to long COVID.
With a decline in spirometry testing during the pandemic, the diagnosis of conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is estimated to have fallen by half in the past year*, tens of thousands of people across the country could be living with the serious condition without knowing.
In the same way that COVID-19 posed a greater threat to certain communities, we need to get out and find those most at risk and make sure people have the knowledge, care and treatment they need to avoid serious life limiting illness.
Across mid and south Essex there is a big focus on making sure any barriers to getting to accessing healthcare are tackled head on to help drive down health inequalities.
How will this help the NHS assess the impact of long COVID?
Long COVID is used to describe signs and symptoms that last for a few weeks or months after having a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19. It can affect your whole body, and your symptoms can change and come and go over time.
One of the main symptoms is breathlessness.
As part of this outreach work a healthcare professional will look into any symptoms and first try to find out if there are any other possible causes of breathlessness to make sure people have the knowledge, care and treatment they need.
Which tests will be undertaken on the van and what does it involve?
-You will be asked some questions before you start, to check you are medically fit to do the test. It is important to put as much effort into the test as you can, so the results are accurate.
-A healthcare professional wearing full PPE will initially check your height and weight
-This will be followed by a blood pressure check and observing oxygen levels in a simple, painless test which uses a sensor placed on your fingertip.
-You’ll be asked to sit comfortably. You will be shown how to blow into the spirometer before starting. You will then be asked to breathe through the spirometer, initially a slow breath and this is repeated three times, then a forced blow three times. Then you will be asked to breathe through another device, similar in size to the spirometer (FeNO machine). Depending on the results, your health care professional may ask you to use your inhaler. 15 mins later, you will be asked to repeat the 3 forced blows.
-You will then be given advice based on the results on the day.
Will the results be sent to my GP?
Yes. Advice may be given to the GP about appropriate inhalers.
What is spirometry?
Spirometry measures the amount of air you can breathe out from your lungs and how fast you can blow it out. You’ll be asked to take a slow breath followed by very deep breaths and invited to blow out as fast as you can into a mouthpiece, until no more air comes out.
A spirometry test typically takes 10 to 20 minutes.
What’s spirometry used for?
Where will the van go?
Initial plans will see the NHS work with specific communities where data shows either a high prevalence of breathlessness or communities that would most benefit from dedicated outreach (i.e. at higher risk).
Do you need an appointment?
Yes – we will be working with community leaders and groups to offer a number of appointment slots that they will help us to fill.
How much space is there on the vehicle?
While the vehicle itself can be used as a mini-clinic, we will be looking to set up a pop-up outdoor clinic alongside to maximise space.
In Essex, we have big plans and ambitions for targeting investment in improved treatment and support for those with respiratory disease, with an ambition to transform outcomes particularly for those who we know are at higher risk.
We are constantly testing and learning, our vision is to grow the roving diagnostic model even further developing a holistic one stop shop approach with responsive community support and education.
Long term we hope this will help more people with breathing difficulties to receive timely diagnosis, be empowered to know what they can do to prevent things getting worse and know who can support them to live a healthy life.