Patients, staff and stakeholders are being invited to share their views on a strategy to tackle the growing problem of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in England published by the Department of Health today.
COPD is thought to affect over three million people in England, but less than a million of these have been diagnosed. One of the main aims of the strategy will be to support the local NHS in identifying those who are not aware they have the condition and helping them to receive an early and accurate diagnosis and treatment to limit further damage.
The strategy also looks at care for people with asthma as it is often confused with COPD and there are similarities in treatment for the two conditions.
The strategy which is being consulted on widely has been developed with key patient groups including the British Lung Foundation and Asthma UK, as well as people working in health and social care, people with COPD and asthma and their carers.
The Department has already identified personalised care plans as important for helping all people with long-term conditions including those with COPD and asthma to understand and manage their condition. The strategy sets out a number of clear recommendations to improve outcomes for patients and help to reduce the cost of COPD to the NHS including:
Identifying the disease earlier
Improving diagnosis of COPD and asthma
Helping people to manage their condition better through structured education and exercise
Reducing admissions and re-admissions to hospital
Improving access to end of life care
Working to prevent COPD
Health Secretary Andy Burnham said: "COPD is notoriously hard to spot in its early stages, and yet the sooner it is diagnosed the more we can do for people with the condition.
"This strategy will focus minds across the NHS on better diagnosis and earlier treatment. There are more than three million people with COPD in this country, yet less than a million have been diagnosed, so we need to raise awareness and improve knowledge of the symptoms as a matter of urgency."