In recognition of Asthma Awareness Month, Member of Parliament for Wakefield, Simon Lightwood, has proudly nominated ‘Straight Talking Initiative – Making Asthma Care More Equitable’ for The Health Equalities Award at the prestigious NHS Parliamentary Awards. Led by Dr Llinos Jones at Mid Yorkshire Teaching NHS Trust, this groundbreaking initiative aims to address language, literacy, and cultural barriers faced by asthma patients whose first language is not English, with the goal of reducing health disparities in the region.

Launched in 2021, the project received funding through the NHS Accelerated Access Collaborative’s ‘Pathway Transformation Fund’. Its primary objective is to eliminate inequalities in healthcare by focusing on patients with asthma from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds.

The initiative has brought together key partners such as the University of Huddersfield, Yorkshire and Humber Academic Health Science Network, as well as stakeholders from the South Asian community, including Neighbourhood Matters, Ravensthorpe Community Centre, and the Indian Muslim Welfare Society based at the Al Hikmah Centre in Batley. Trust hospital Chaplains and Third Sector Leaders Kirklees (TSL Kirklees) have also played vital roles in supporting the project.

A collaborative effort between the project team and community members has resulted in the development of a comprehensive set of multilingual resources, now widely available throughout the UK. These resources aim to enhance awareness and understanding of asthma, empowering individuals to seek appropriate care and support. Community asthma champions, trained by TSL Kirklees, have played a significant role in bridging gaps between healthcare providers and communities. Their efforts have provided crucial assistance to asthma patients, particularly in navigating language and cultural barriers.

Simon Lightwood, MP for Wakefield, expressed his admiration for the initiative, stating, “Asthma affects numerous individuals in Wakefield, and this team is making remarkable strides towards ensuring equitable access to information and care for asthma sufferers, regardless of their background. The work undertaken by this team will greatly improve equality in asthma care and treatment. It is an honour to nominate them for the NHS Parliamentary Awards.”

Dr Llinos Jones, Respiratory Consultant at Mid Yorkshire Teaching NHS Trust, shared her enthusiasm about the collaboration, saying, “Working with this team has been an absolute pleasure, and our incredible community champions have been incredibly receptive and enthusiastic about spreading asthma-related messages within our communities.”

TSL Kirklees, which played a vital role in training community members as asthma champions, expressed pride in their involvement. Bridget Hughes, Supporting Communities Lead at TSL Kirklees, praised the champions and their organisations for their impactful work. She said, “The community champions and their organisations possess an exceptional understanding of their communities and are highly trusted by local residents. They have done outstanding work in delivering vital information about asthma and treatment to individuals who may otherwise face cultural or language barriers. TSL is proud to support these champions and to have been part of this much-needed project.”

Dr Jones emphasised the overwhelmingly positive response received by the project, stating, “Equitable access to treatment and information for asthma is a cause we are deeply passionate about. By working together, we can continue to address disparities and enhance asthma management for all patients. With the availability of numerous new and highly effective asthma treatments, patients no longer need to suffer in silence.”