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Spirometry - How to get on the ARTP register

Key Takeaways

  • Before 31st March 2021 you are expected to be named on the national Association for Respiratory Technology and Physiology (ARTP) register to demonstrate competence in performing and/or interpreting spirometry 1,2
  • The certification scheme aims to raise the standards of spirometry for respiratory diagnosis 1
  • Depending on how and where you use spirometry, there are 3 levels of certification plus a paediatric certificate option 3,4
  • You are not required to train before certification, but this is recommended if you are new to spirometry or have trained over 3 years ago 5,6
  • To maintain your name on the register, you will need to re-certify every 3 years and demonstrate that you are regularly performing and/or interpreting spirometry 2
  • Being registered is not a mandatory requirement but it is considered best practice 7
  • The General Medical Council may become involved if nurses perform diagnostic spirometry after 2021 when they have not been deemed competent  7


Why certification has been introduced

A new competency assessment framework was published in 2016, the result of a collaboration between NHS England, Education for Health, Asthma UK, the Association for Respiratory Technology and Physiology, British Lung Foundation, Primary Care Respiratory Society UK, British Thoracic Society and the Association of Respiratory Nurse Specialists.  This aims to ensure consistently high standards of spirometry for respiratory diagnosis and to reduce risk of misdiagnosis. 2
Why is this necessary?

  • Diagnostic spirometry has to be performed to a high standard to avoid a significant risk of an incorrect diagnosis 2
  • If diagnosed incorrectly, patients may receive inappropriate and potentially harmful treatment, or be denied treatment that could help them 2
  • 1 in 4 people on COPD registers may not meet diagnostic criteria for COPD and could be receiving inappropriate medication and treatment 8
If you want to perform spirometry, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) expect your practice to provide evidence that you are competent in performing the assessment or interpreting the results. 9 This can be fulfilled by you gaining certification and adding your name to the national register.

The certification levels

Depending how and where you use spirometry, you can apply for three different levels of certification: 3

  • Foundation
  • Interpretation Only
  • Full
You can also apply for a paediatric spirometry certificate if you regularly perform spirometry and interpret results on children. 4

There are different requirements for each competency level of certification, depending on if you are a new or experienced practitioner, or if you are applying for re-certification.2

Adapted from NHS England et al 2016 2

Routes to certification

Your previous experience will impact your route to certification. You may wish to consider training before undertaking ARTP assessment, which can be completed through organisations including The Institute of Clinical Science and Technology (ICS&T), the training partner of ARTP: 10

  • Training course: Recommended if you are new to Spirometry or if your previous training was more than 3 years ago 6
  • No training course: If you are an experienced spirometry practitioner and trained less than 3 years ago, you may choose to apply directly for certification 6

What does the course involve?

ICS&T provide an online course and a blended course.

  • The online course is appropriate if you will only be interpreting spirometry measurements. It does not provide a practical workshop on taking spirometry measurements however will provide resources that you can access after certification 6
  • The blended course consists of online modules and a face-to-face workshop which discusses practical aspects of taking spirometry measurements 6
Many other organisations also provide spirometry training. Whichever training you choose, you are still able to undertake the ARTP certificate of competence and get on the national register. 10

Just remember that only ARTP provide the certificate of competence. 5


The new competency framework should be fully implemented by 31st March 2021 giving you plenty of time to get certified ahead of the deadline. 2

Follow these five easy steps to get on the register: 11

Adapted from ICS&T11

  1. Primary care respiratory update, Certification scheme to raise standards of spirometry for respiratory diagnosis. 2016; 3 (4). Accessed March 11, 2019.
  2. NHS England et al, Improving the quality of diagnostic Spirometry in adults: the National Register of certified professionals and operators. September 2016. Accessed March 11, 2019.
  3. ARTP, Certification Process. Accessed March 11, 2019.
  4. ARTP, Paediatric Spirometry Certificate. Accessed March 11, 2019.
  5. ARTP, Becoming Certified. Accessed March 11, 2019
  6. The Institute of Clinical Science & Technology, Step two the course. Accessed March 11, 2019.
  7. ARTP, ARTP Spirometry Register. Accessed March 11, 2019
  8. PCC, A Guide to Performing Quality Assured Diagnostic Spirometry. 2013. Accessed March 14, 2019
  9. CQC, Nigel’s surgery 83: Spirometry in general practice., Accessed March 14 2019
  10. ARTP, Spirometry training. Accessed March 11, 2019.
  11. The Institute of Clinical Science & Technology, Five easy steps to get on the register. Accessed March 14, 2013

PM-GB-CPU-WCNT-190005 - April 2019

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