Respiratory/Chest Unit

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Respiratory services

Respiratory services within the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS trust cover a variety of conditions, such as Lung cancer,Sarcoidosis, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Asthma, Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD), Bronchiectasis and Tuberculosis. 

The respiratory team consists of Respiratory consultants, Respiratory Nurses, Healthcare Scientists (physiologists), Physiotherapists and administration staff.  

There is a dedicated respiratory ward in both hospitals. Ward 21 at Tunbridge Wells and Foster Clarke in Maidstone.

Respiratory consultants

There are currently 3 Respiratory Consultants on each of the Trusts 2 acute hospital sites. The Respiratory services are mirrored across site, but currently interventional bronchoscopy occurs only on the Maidstone site. 

We offer a range of Specialist and General Respiratory outpatients, including Lung cancer, Bronchiectasis, TB, Pulmonary Fibrosis, Pleural diseases, asthma and a COPD HOT clinic.  

We offer an Integrated COPD pathway, which works across primary and secondary care. We have an established home oxygen service and Pulmonary Rehabilitation service.

Respiratory nurses

A team of respiratory nurse specialists are available Monday to Friday to give specific clinical advice and education to ward staff for patients who have: 

  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Acute asthma
  • Interstitial Lung Disease
  • Tuberculosis (TB)
  • Complex oxygen requirements

Patients are supported with education and given advice on how to better manage their condition. Outpatient clinics are run for patients with asthma, TB and those who requiring oxygen at home.

The nurses are part of a multi disciplinary team who deliver an integrated care pathway for COPD patients. This pathway allows COPD patients who are exacerbating to have support both in hospital and at home by a dedicated specialist team. Patients are encouraged to attend pulmonary rehabilitation classes and given support to better manage their condition at home.

Physiotherapy

Based across both Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells hospital sites the MTW respiratory Physiotherapy team supports patient care providing both a comprehensive service to the in-patient wards and outpatients. 

Both teams cover a large number of wards, including the intensive care unit (ICU), high dependency unit (HDU), coronary care (CCU), respiratory, surgical, and medical wards. Patients with a wide variety of Respiratory conditions will be assessed, treated, and rehabilitated. 

We assist with secretion clearance, improving lung volumes, assisting with weaning from ventilation, providing secretion management strategies, breathlessness management strategies and using techniques to increase exercise tolerance. We provide rehabilitation with the aim to facilitate a time efficient and safe discharge, providing input from when a patient is critically unwell, to medically stable and up until discharge date.

Physiotherapy aims to assist patients to effectively regain their function and return to baseline abilities, and also to facilitate their care through to tertiary services, and create onward referrals as necessary – for example to community hospitals, COPD pathway, Pulmonary Rehabilitation and outpatient follow up appointments. 

Physiotherapists work as part of the MDT to provide the Pulmonary Rehabilitation service to patients in West Kent. This service is based in community venues across West Kent, courses run for six weeks with patients attending classes twice weekly. Patients take part in an exercise program and receive education about their condition and how to manage their symptoms. Patients are referred to this service via their Consultant, GP, Respiratory Nurse or Physiotherapist. 

Physiotherapists work as part of the MDT team to deliver the integrated care pathway for respiratory Patients. 

Bronchiectasis clinics are offered as an out-patient service at both sites. This service is for patients, who are under the care of an MTW Respiratory Consultant. Here they will be assessed and guided to complete the most appropriate and effective daily method of airway clearance and exacerbation management. Similarly, joint clinics with the respiratory consultants are offered at Tunbridge Wells once monthly.

Patients with other respiratory conditions may also be offered clinic appointments. We have a number of patient information leaflets to support any education/advice given by the Physiotherapists. 

We provide a weekend/bank holiday respiratory service for acutely unwell respiratory patients on both sites.

An out of hours on- call service is available (1600- 0800 via Switchboard) for patients who would benefit from urgent chest physiotherapy.

Respiratory Physiology

The respiratory physiology departments are located within outpatients at Tunbridge Wells at Pembury and within Cardio-Respiratory at Maidstone. We offer a range of diagnostic tests to assist the doctors and nurses in diagnosing, treating and monitoring a range of respiratory conditions. 

We have a dedicated team of respiratory physiologists who support the work of the consultants across the trust including referrals from many specialities. Patient’s can expect to receive high quality tests performed in a supportive professional environment. 

Respiratory physiology also supports student physiologists during their training, through offering work placements. A student may perform tests with patients as part of their training, but there will always be support form a senior member of staff. 

The department is open Monday to Friday. Some tests are only bookable on set days. The diagnostic tests that the trust currently offers can be spilt into three groups, basic tests, Field exercise tests and special tests. The tests that we currently offer are:           

Basic Test

  • Dynamic Lung Volumes (spirometry)
  • Gas transfer (single breath TLco) 
  • Static Lung Volumes (Body plethysmography and Helium Dilution)
  • Trials before and after inhalers
  • Pulse Oximetry

 Field exercise tests 

  • Six minute walk tests
  • Incremental shuttle walk

Special Tests

  • Respiratory Muscle strength testing (sitting, Supine, Maximal inspiratory and Expiratory Pressures and sniff nasal inspiratory pressures)
  • Bronchial Challenge Testing (mannitol)
  • Hypoxic challenge testing (referrals can be taken through the Wells suit from GP’s)
  • Skin prick tests to common allergens
  • Exhaled Nitric Oxide testing
  • Exercise induced Asthma tests
  • Overnight Oximetry
  • Blood gas measurement (capillary) 

Patient Information leaflets on all of these tests are available further down the page 

For more information about the services that we offer, the tests we provide please do not hesitate to contact us on 01622 224521 or 01892 634684

Patient information leaflets

Popular patient information leaflets for respiratory physiology:

Useful Links:

Asthma UK - HomepageAsthma UK is the charity dedicated to improving the health and well-being of the 5.2 million people in the UK whose lives are affected by asthma.

British Lung Foundation - information and support.

Home Oxygen Service - NHS website with information about oxygen at home and where local suppliers are  

Lung and Asthma Information Agency - has many online factsheets