ASTHMA sufferers and people with other long-term lung problems have visited the first community-based clinic now running in Chipping Norton as part of a pilot aimed at improving treatment for respiratory illnesses.

The pilot, a partnership between local NHS services and private pharmaceutical giant Boehringer Ingelheim, will run until 2020.

Clinics will also run at St Bartholomew’s Medical Centre in Oxford and Horsefair Surgery in Banbury.

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Dr Karen Kearley, who is leading the project on behalf of Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said the pilot created an opportunity for a range of health professionals to work more closely together to share expertise to improve care for patients.

However the pilot has been criticised by campaigners who fear it is yet more evidence of backdoor privatisation of the NHS, and also raised concerns over how patient data will be used.

Joan Stewart of Keep Our NHS Public said: “Although data are to be anonymised and aggregated, we know from the project that patient confidentiality is not always safe, and could be used outside of the NHS in ways patients are not aware of, or would want. And despite assurances that BI is not there to promote its products, OCCG is foolhardy to believe otherwise.”