A test which rapidly diagnoses the cause of people’s winter lung illnesses in A&E is enabling more targeted treatment and reducing the number of people needing to go to hospital.

Test results are on average seven times faster than normal.

West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust employed the test which involves genetic analysis of a swab taken from the patient’s nose, mouth or throat which isolates the specific bugs which may be causing the patient’s lung illness.

Dr Kay Roy, Respiratory Medicine Consultant at West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, and member of the British Thoracic Society said:

“During Winter, A&E departments have to cope with a surge of patients with lung infections.

“The key issue is to rapidly find out what is causing and driving these illnesses.

“This comprehensive test is being delivered very quickly and closer to the patient – which allows us to make rapid, informed decisions about treatment and whether admission to hospital is needed.”

At a national level, pneumonia and ‘flu caused 269,313 emergency hospital admissions in the UK in 2016/17 which cost the NHS an estimated £1 billion.