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Poor COPD care leading to unnecessary A&E admissions

Fifth of COPD patients visit A&E per year

Adrian O'Dowd

Friday, 17 November 2017

People with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are not receiving adequate care and around a fifth have to attend A&E at least once a year because of a flare-up of their condition, according to a new survey.

The Breathing New Life into COPD survey of 500 people across Britain diagnosed with COPD was carried out by the research company, Opinion Health, funded by the pharmaceutical company Chiesi Limited and was supported by respiratory charity, the British Lung Foundation.

The survey found that almost a third (31%) of respondents felt their treatment was not adequately controlling their condition while 60% felt there was not enough support available to help them manage it properly.

This finding was despite the nationwide survey revealing that almost half (46%) of patients used at least three inhalers to help keep their condition under control.

Despite this, flare-ups where their condition suddenly worsened, led to a fifth (21%) of people visiting A&E up to twice a year and some patients (4%) had visited A&E three or more times in a year due to this.

Just under a fifth (18%) of those questioned said they had to stay in hospital overnight once or twice in the last year because of their flare-up.

COPD affects at least 1.2 million people in the UK, usually over the age of 40 and experts believe there are an additional two million undiagnosed cases.

The condition kills around 30,000 people each year and is estimated to cost the NHS more than £800 million a year with the overall economy losing £3.8 billion in productivity.

COPD accounts for more than 140,000 hospital admissions and over a million bed days each year across the UK.

The survey also revealed a lack of awareness of the condition, with 37% of patients knowing nothing about it before they were diagnosed.

COPD was also having a negative impact on the personal lives of people with the condition.

The survey found that 34% of respondents were anxious about the possibility of having another flare up and this fear was impacting on their day-to-day lives, leaving 58% unable to do exercise and sport and 48% unable to walk up and down stairs.

Dr Richard Russell, consultant respiratory physician at Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust in Southampton and clinical director of the West Hampshire Integrated Respiratory Service said: “The findings demonstrate there is much more to be done to improve the care of these patients.

“Patients are still suffering from poorly controlled disease, especially from acute lung attacks or exacerbations, which is impacting on all aspects of their lives and leading to significant mortality, morbidity and cost to society.”

Dr Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation said: “It’s vital that healthcare professionals are supporting patients by helping them to effectively manage their condition at home.

“Providing patients with information about treatments, services, and support beyond the clinic or hospital will play a big part in helping them to adapt to their condition, and, will ultimately reduce pressure on already stretched hospital services.”

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