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Shoppers check out their lungs on World COPD Day

Shoppers in Arnold were caught by surprise when nurses greeted them in the aisles of a popular high street store. Health leaders in Nottingham were raising awareness of one of the most common chronic diseases in the UK by offering free lung tests for local people who are worried they may have symptoms of the disease.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is the name for a collection of lung diseases including chronic bronchitis, emphysema and chronic obstructive airways disease.

Symptoms are often referred to as a ‘smoker’s cough’ which could be a sign of the disease. It affects 3 million people across the UK with a further 2.1 million thought to be undiagnosed.

NHS Nottingham North and East Clinical Commissioning Group has piloted a scheme to improve the diagnosis and management of patients with COPD and offered patients in Arnold a chance to test how well their lungs work by offering free Spirometry tests on Wednesday 20 November to mark World COPD Day. Their aim is to identify more patients who are living with the condition but haven’t sought the help they need.

A spirometer is a device that tests the amount and speed of air that can be inhaled and exhaled to identify any obstructions.

Mike Woolley, who’s 61 and from Carlton said: “ My results were fine, but it was very reassuring to see the NHS out and about in shops delivering this sort of service in the community and quite refreshing considering it’s often private companies that do this sort of thing.”

“David Wood from Arnold who’s 64 said: “I had the test as I’m a smoker and feel like I’ve got the lungs of a 90 year old so the next thing I’ll do is book in to see the doctor. It’s really good to see the NHS when I’m just doing my shopping. It’s a great idea and other areas should follow suit.”

Peggy Archer who’s 59 and also from Arnold took a test: “A lot of people don’t’ want to know how bad their lungs are. I was elated when they told me I was fine because I used to be a heavy smoker and the fact they could do it there and then in a shop was amazing. It’s really given me a boost and I carry the results wherever I go just to remind me why I gave up smoking.”

Figures have shown that there are higher than average numbers of people with the disease in Nottinghamshire than elsewhere in the country with 1.9% of the county’s population thought to be living with the condition compared with the national average of 1.5%.

COPD affects more men than women, although rates in women are increasing. Nottingham North and East CCG have prioritised action on the disease because its population of 145,000 has high numbers of smokers and live in former coal mining communities where long term respiratory conditions are more likely.

The pilot was part of a study which was carried out in partnership with NHS England and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). It involved a patient survey and resulted in a range of recommendations for GPS and the CCG which could lead to better management of the condition across the areas it serves including a specialist nurse to focus on education of GPs and other health care workers to recognise and manage the way patients with COPD are referred.

Dr Paul Oliver is the clinical lead for NHS Nottingham North and East Clinical Commissioning Group: “There are a range of tests to see if people have COPD. The common symptoms are increasing breathlessness when active, a persistent cough with phlegm, and frequent chest infections. Although the damage to lungs cannot be reversed, the condition can be managed if people seek help early enough. Smokers would clearly benefit if they stopped too so we would urge people who have concerns to seek advice from their GP as soon as possible.”

For more information about COPD visit www.nottinghamnortheastccg.nsh.uk  or the British Lung Foundation web site www.blf.org.uk/Home

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