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Breathlessness intervention service

Patient information A-Z


Breathing problems are very common in people who have heart and lung conditions, or some types of cancer. Breathlessness can be disabling, frightening and distressing for all those concerned. This leaflet is to explain how the Breathlessness Intervention Service can help.

Who is the Breathlessness Intervention Service for?

The Breathlessness Intervention Service is for patients who:

  • are troubled by breathlessness due to their condition
  • are having treatment for their breathlessness
  • may benefit from a self-help programme in order to manage their breathlessness

What is the Breathlessness Intervention Service?

The Breathlessness Intervention Service began in 2004. The team includes a consultant in palliative medicine, specialist occupational therapist and physiotherapists, and is supported by a clinical psychologist.

The Breathlessness Intervention Service can see families in their own home, or in clinic. We offer a variety of solutions that can help patients and their families live more easily with their breathing problems.

What will happen?

Your first meeting

We will discuss the problems you are having with your breathing with you and your family.

  • Our first meeting usually lasts for up to an hour, so that you do not get too tired.
  • We can also arrange to have some private time with you alone so you can discuss any more confidential concerns.
  • We can offer you some simple, effective advice to get you started.
  • We will give you a pack of useful information.
  • We may make another appointment for you.
Further appointments

We can meet you at your home or in the clinic.

  • We will go into more detail about the interventions and see how helpful they have been for you.
  • Interventions can include breathing exercises, use of a hand-held fan and physical exercises, which we will make sure you can manage safely and effectively.
Working with healthcare staff

We always work closely with others involved in your care including your general practitioner, hospital consultants and any community-based nursing, physiotherapy or occupational therapy staff.

  • Our specialist advice about breathing can often help these healthcare professionals support you too.
  • We will discuss if you may benefit from referral to local support services such as pulmonary rehabilitation (a group providing exercise and education for people with lung conditions) if appropriate.
How can I be referred to the Breathlessness Intervention Service?

Please speak to your consultant, nurse, therapist or GP if you want to be referred.

Contacts and further information

  • If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask us at your appointment, or ring the office on 01223 349325.
  • If you are unhappy about any aspect of the service, do discuss this with us - and you can always contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) staff at Addenbrooke's for help and information on 01223 216756.

The service sometimes does research to make sure what we do is useful. You may be asked to take part in such research - but you can say no and your treatment will not be affected at all.

We are smoke-free

Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.

Other formats

Help accessing this information in other formats is available. To find out more about the services we provide, please visit our patient information help page (see link below) or telephone 01223 256998.

Contact us

Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151