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Lung function unit

Respiratory Medicine (Lungs)

Urgent advice: Covid-19 - Respiratory

Individuals with chronic lung conditions such as COPD, bronchiectasis and asthma are more at risk of the effects of coronavirus (COVID-19).

To help reduce risk: 

  • All non-urgent lung function testing has been cancelled
  • All non-urgent face to face clinic appointments will take place via telephone 

Please keep your clinic appointment time free, and you will be called by one of the clinical team within a three hour window of your original appointment time.  

You should follow current government advice on self-isolation. If you become unwell with a cough and/or fever, we advise that you follow your standard plan for exacerbation (infection) management including:

  • Continuing your standard medicines 
  • If applicable, follow the advice from your previously discussed management plan. This may include commencing antibiotics, nebulisers or steroids. If you fail to improve, please seek medical attention.
  • If you usually have a standby course of medications, ensure you have these available.

The respiratory team cannot arrange testing for COVID-19, which is undertaken as per national directives.

For some patients e.g. those with severe asthma receiving biological therapy, the specialist team will inform you on the transition to “home care.”

We thank you for your patience during this time; we will update you all when new information is available.

The lung function unit undertakes a number of physiological assessments to aid with the diagnosis of respiratory abnormalities, to monitor responses to interventions such as medicines or chemotherapy or to assess the risk to undergo certain procedures such as surgery or bone marrow transplants.

The unit provides a wide range of diagnostic tests to both outpatients and inpatients referred to the service. The main tests include assessment of the size of the lungs, how efficiently they exchange gases such as oxygen and how fast they can blow the air out.

More advanced tests are also conducted.

Referral process

How do I get referred?

At present we do not accept direct referrals from your GP. In order to be referred, your GP will need to write to one of the respiratory consultants to request a lung function test. The referral should contain details of your past medical history, current symptoms and reason for referral.

If you are already being seen by a specialist in the hospital, they can order the test directly, they may also at the same time refer you to see a respiratory specialist.

If you are a private patient, your consultant will send us a referral for us to arrange

When do I get an appointment?

This depends on whether you are a new or return patient and the urgency of the appointment. New patients should ideally be seen within 6 weeks. Return patients tend to have their appointments co-ordinated with follow up appointments. Quite often your specialist will request for you to have your test within a specific time frame.

How do you contact me about appointments?

In most cases when the appointment is made a letter will be sent to you and you may receive a text message reminder. In addition to this our admin team may contact you to ensure you have the correct information before your appointment.

If you are a private patient our admin team will call you to arrange an appointment and go through the information required before your appointment. You may also receive an appointment through the post with a private patient form included.

What do I do if I cannot attend?

We understand that people cannot attend for a number of reasons. If you are unable to attend please give us a call as soon as possible, we always have people waiting for urgent/cancellation slots and this way the appointment will not go to waste. Where possible we will try to rearrange the appointment, if you call. However, we cannot guarantee exact time and dates and you may have to wait for a cancellation.

If you have a lung function test by itself, the number to call is:

01223 217065

If you have a lung function test and an appointment with the chest clinic, the number to call is:

01223 216645

What happens to my results?

After your test is completed your report will be sent to the referring specialist as an electronic report or a paper report, if external to the hospital. The electronic report is available to them on your electronic medical records and paper report is sent in the post or by fax. After you have seen the specialist, they will write to your GP, if it was them that referred you. We are unable to give you a report directly but there is a formal process for requesting them if needed.

Preparing for your appointment

In order to be prepared for your lung function appointment it is important that you are well enough to perform the required tests. If you have any of the following ailments/symptoms in the week before attending, please contact the department on details below:

  • Recent onset of cough/cold
  • Raised temperature/fever
  • Current/resolving chest infection
  • Diarrhoea and/or Vomiting
  • Flu like symptoms
  • Recent admission to hospital
  • Surgery in the 4 weeks prior
  • Cardiac symptoms in the 4 weeks prior

If you are not currently well or unsure if you would still be able to perform the test, please contact the lung function department on details below. We will aim to assist you in deciding whether it is better to attend the appointment, or reschedule.

The Physiologist will check that it is safe for you to perform the required tests at the start of your appointment, and will consult with your doctors as required.

Some tests may also require that you stop taking some of your medication, so please check your appointment letter for details.

This is important to ensure that we are able to perform all the tests when you attend for your appointment. Unfortunately accidentally/incorrectly taking medication may result in us not being able to perform tests at that appointment and therefore delay your doctor to manage your health optimally.

The type of medication and time period that you should avoid taking these medications, will be stated in your appointment letter. More information for each test and what to expect during your visit can be found in the lung function services section (hyperlink).

If you have any concerns about your ability to perform the test, or any other queries, please do not hesitate to contact us on the following number: 01223 217065