Alongside our Cold Weather Alert Service this winter, the Met Office is working with the NHS and Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) to help keep people well at times of severe cold weather with our specially produced Healthy Outlook® service. The service helps patients suffering with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) stay informed about any potential adverse cold weather periods that may have an effect on their well-being. Healthy Outlook® also gives professionals and patients the opportunity to take action by giving them advance warning of colder weather and circulating infections.
COPD is the term used to describe a number of conditions, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema, where people have difficulty breathing because of long-term damage to their lungs. Poor weather conditions, such as extreme cold in winter can exacerbate COPD symptoms and contribute to breathing difficulties which often leads to a spell in hospital for the patient. There are around 30,000 COPD-related deaths each year in the UK and it is the second highest cause of emergency hospital admissions.
Katie Russell, Met Office Business Manager for Health, said: “We are excited to be working with the NHS and GPs surgeries again this year. The Met Office has been involved in COPD Health forecasting for a number of years and feedback from patients shows that 82% found Healthy Outlook® helped them manage their COPD better during periods of cold weather.”
This winter, Healthy Outlook® is also being trialled in-store in selected retail pharmacies to give those suffering from COPD a more flexible method of managing their condition. By signing up to the service through the retail outlets, patients can benefit from COPD forecast alerts even if their local PCT is not involved.
As with the standard service, patients will receive a pack containing advice and tools that can help them to manage their condition. An automated telephone call to a number of their choice will also alert them to conditions in the environment which are expected to increase the risk of symptoms of COPD becoming worse.
The latest information about the weather and warnings can be found on the Met Office website, iPhone and Android apps and on twitter. Further information on Healthy Outlook can be found on the Met Office’s Cold weather and health web pages.