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The new oxygen service—providing consistency throughout the UK
Home oxygen therapy services have a vital role in supporting children with breathing difficulties, including those with long-term medical conditions such as chronic lung disease of the newborn, pulmonary interstitial fibrosis, neurodisability and cystic fibrosis.1 This article discusses the practicalities of prescribing oxygen for children who require it in the home.
Until recently, oxygen was prescribed by the patient’s general practitioner (GP), with a supplier providing the oxygen concentrator service and local pharmacies supplying oxygen cylinders to patients in their homes. Liquid oxygen was only available following application to the primary care trust (PCT) for funding. This resulted in variations and inconsistencies throughout the UK in the way home oxygen was prescribed, used and delivered. In 2003, the Department of Health2 announced plans to modernise the domiciliary oxygen service to improve patient access to a wider range of modern technologies supporting patients’ clinical care and other needs. The aim was to improve quality of life, ambulatory oxygen provision, holiday provision in the UK and safety. From February 2006, following the development of new service specifications and a competitive tendering process, four companies (Air Products, Allied Respiratory, Linde Gas and BOC) were awarded contracts to provide this service across 11 regions in England and Wales. Domiciliary oxygen is now provided by a single contractor in each home oxygen service region and all modalities are available, including liquid oxygen. Air Products is the provider to most of the regions in England and Wales.
Once a decision has been made for a child to be discharged on supplemental oxygen, a home oxygen consent form (HOCF) is signed by the parents (box 1, step 1). A home oxygen order form (HOOF) is completed (in large trusts this is done by a designated healthcare professional …
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