National Programme —

Asthma treatment - Biologic therapy

Transforming asthma patients’ lives through biological therapy.

Female cardiologist checks a patient's heart

Improving asthma care pathways

Increasing regional uptake of innovative biological therapies

Reducing emergency department attendance for asthma patients on biologics

Detailed programme information

The South West and West of England AHSNs, alongside the South West Severe Asthma Network (SWSAN), worked with 10 hospital trusts across the South West of England as part of the Asthma Biologics Project to improve asthma pathways and enhance access to innovative treatments for adult patients.

Biological therapies can transform patient lives by reducing long-term side effects of other asthma treatments, help patients not responding to other treatments and reduce the number of exacerbations and life-threatening asthma attacks. These treatments were selected as one element of the national Rapid Uptake Products (RUP) programme 

The RUP programme is delivered by AHSNs and seeks to increase uptake of NICE approved diagnostics and treatments that have lower than expected uptake. 

The collaborative initiative was awarded NHS Pathway Transformation Funding for one year from September 2021, to increase regional uptake of asthma biological therapies (Reslizumab, Benralizumab, Mepolizumab and Omalizumab). 

Furthermore, the work undertaken by both AHSNs and SWSAN links to the respiratory NHS Long Term Plan ambitions “to improve the lives and outcomes of people with respiratory disease by diagnosing and treating conditions earlier and making sure that people with respiratory disease are receiving the right medication.” 

Alongside this work, a new asthma consensus pathway was developed by Oxford AHSN and launched in June 2022. The pathway intends to be a blueprint, guiding clinicians, managers and commissioners on what optimal asthma care should look like across the entire patient journey and leading to real improvements in outcomes. You can find out more here. 


Local outcomes 

Since September 2021, the South West and West of England AHSNs and Bristol Royal Hospital for Children have also supported a paediatric asthma project to improve care pathways and access to biologic therapies for children and young people. 

An evaluation of the project’s impact across all 10 hospital trusts has shown a number of positive outcomes, including: 

  • 961 patients are now receiving biologic therapies 
  • 294 new patients started biologic therapy during the project 
  • 87% of patients are now administering biologics at home 
  • A reduced time from referral to commencement of biologics 
  • 36% reduction in asthma ED attendance for patients on biologics (over 2 years) 

You can learn about how the South West AHSN has also been transforming asthma care at the diagnostic level in the South West here. 


National Impact 

The Asthma Biologics programme aimed to improve patient care and outcomes through enhanced access to diagnostics and treatments for severe asthma. The impact of the programme from April 2021 to March 2023 included: 

  • More than 4,690 new patients began receiving life-changing biologic therapies. 
  • Around 3000 fewer patients receiving high-dose (3g or more) oral steroids each month. 

For the clinical workforce delivering asthma care this programme, along with FeNo testing, has supported learning, training and development. 

  • Around 5,000 hours of specialist training delivered to upskill those providing asthma care. 
  • Approximately 1,700 people attended webinars and learning collaboratives related to asthma. 
  • Online resource toolkits for asthma have been accessed more than 33,000 times. 
  • The asthma consensus pathway was launched, providing a new set of standards based on best practice to guide how to deliver optimal care across the entire patient journey. 


Next Steps 

The national Asthma Biologics programme is now complete and has made substantial contributions to the transformation of asthma care in England while significantly increasing the access to and adoption of asthma biologics. Learning from the AHSN programmes is being fed into the development of NICE/SIGN/British Thoracic Society asthma guidance, expected in 2024, offering real world insights to implementation considerations. 

There are opportunities to continue this work and improve asthma care by enhancing rollout of the innovations and ensure more patients can benefit. Both toolkits, training modules and other resources created during the programmes will remain accessible to NHS clinicians following the end of the AHSN programmes.  

The AHSN Network is now transitioning to support healthcare inequalities as a national priority as part of NHS England’s Innovation for Healthcare Inequalities Programme (InHIP). Building on the transforming asthma pathways work, a number of AHSNs will support the respiratory aspect of the NHS England Core20PLUS5 approach, continuing to utilise the implementation and educational resources developed for the Asthma Biologics national programmes. 


Links & Resources 

Asthma Biologics toolkit



For further information, please contact South West AHSN Programme Director Steve Johnson-Wood: 


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