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Chronic lung care 'will improve'

30th June 2006

The government has pledged to improve care for chronic lung conditions, as a report criticises current efforts.

The Healthcare Commission report says there is an urgent need to improve diagnosis and care in an area that is often given a low priority.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), the umbrella term for a range of lung conditions such as chronic bronchitis, affects up to one in 20 Britons.

The government has proposed a new framework for delivering services.
 
Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt said this was an important step which will support the NHS in managing and delivering COPD services more effectively, in a way that supports patient choice.

COPD, which includes conditions like emphysema and chronic bronchitis, is now the fifth most common cause of death in the UK. It is an incurable, but largely preventable condition, usually caused by smoking. Sufferers have permanently damaged lungs and experience breathing difficulties.

A study carried out by health watchdog, the Healthcare Commission, says services for people with COPD have been neglected.

It highlights the limited understanding of COPD amongst healthcare professionals and the lack of structured treatment for patients.

Newly published findings from a survey of 100 COPD patients by the British Lung Foundation also demonstrated shortcomings in care and treatment.

It found that only 17 per cent of respondents were told they had COPD at their first consultation, 57 per cent said their doctor had not given advice on controlling their breathing, and 37 per cent said their GP did not explain that stopping smoking would slow the progression of the disease.

 

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