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Thousands of patients in Rochdale borough with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma are set to benefit from a new work programme launched to ensure they are receiving the right care for their condition.

 

As part of NHS Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale Clinical Commissioning Group’s (NHS HMR CCG) proactive approach to helping patients manage their COPD and asthma, local people diagnosed with these conditions will have their treatment examined as part of a borough wide respiratory review. If required, patients will be invited to attend their GP practice for a consultation with a clinical pharmacist who has had many years specialist training in respiratory practice. The programme will involve over 4,600 patients at 23 practices and is the biggest of its kind in Greater Manchester.

The review, in which NHS HMR CCG is working with specialist medicines optimisation provider, Optimed, will check patients’ symptoms control, inhaler technique, lung function and review patients’ individual care plans.

COPD is the name for a group of lung conditions which cause breathing difficulties. It includes emphysema, which is damage to the air sacs in the lungs, and chronic bronchitis, long-term inflammation of the airways. COPD is a common condition that mainly affects middle-aged or older adults who smoke, or who have previously smoked regularly. Many people don't realise they have it. The breathing problems tend to get gradually worse over time and can limit your normal activities, although treatment can help keep the condition under control. Symptoms include breathlessness, a persistent chesty cough with phlegm, frequent chest infections and continual wheezing.

Asthma is a common lung condition which, for many people with this diagnosis, causes occasional breathing difficulties. It affects people of all ages and often starts in childhood, although it can also appear for the first time in adults. There is currently no cure for asthma, but there are simple treatments that can help keep the symptoms under control so it doesn't have a significant impact on patients’ lives. Symptoms include wheezing, breathlessness, tight chest and coughing.

Dr Keith Pearson, Head of Medicines Optimisation at NHS HMR CCG said: "The respiratory review aims to provide local people who have COPD and asthma with dedicated support from experts in the field of respiratory practice. The reviews will improve management of patients’ treatment for COPD and asthma, ensuring they are on the most appropriate medicines for their individual symptoms. They will also support patients to manage their condition effectively and help reduce the number of flare ups of symptoms, such as breathlessness, which many patients will be familiar with.”

The respiratory reviews will be taking place at GP practices across Rochdale borough until June 2018. Patients will be notified of their review by telephone or letter.

Dr Pearson added: “The respiratory review will also link in with HMR CCG’s Long term Conditions Test Bed project which is working to improve care for people who have, or may develop, certain long term health conditions such as COPD. The Test Bed project has facilitated specialist training with COPD expert Dr Steve Holmes for GPs, practice nurses, pharmacists and other health professionals with an interest in improving clinical care in this field.

“The clinical pharmacists undertaking the respiratory review will be able to identify COPD patients who may benefit from the telehealth service, called “Closercare” whereby patients are provided with digital devices to monitor their own vital health signs at home, sending the readings to health professionals who will monitor them remotely for changes in their condition.”

 

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