World COPD Awareness Day – it’s not too late

Today is “World COPD Awareness Day” and is based around the theme of “It’s Not Too Late”. The day is organised by the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) to improve awareness and care of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) around the world. This positive message was chosen to emphasize the meaningful actions people can take to improve their respiratory health, at any stage before or after a COPD diagnosis.

The theme for this year’s World COPD day strongly reflects the work that the Met Office is doing to develop a health forecast that aims to ease the worsening symptoms that patients suffer from as a direct result of weather conditions and virus levels in the air.

The Healthy Outlook® service helps patients suffering with COPD stay informed about, and take positive action against any potential adverse cold weather periods that may have an effect on their well-being. It’s not just the patients that benefit either, Healthy Outlook® also gives professionals and patients the opportunity to take action by giving them advance warning of colder weather and circulating infections. Studies have shown that a 20 per cent reduction in hospital admissions can be achieved through the service, which helps patients to stay out of hospital and reduce pressures on GP surgery staff and budgets.

To broaden the reach of our service, Healthy Outlook® is also being trialed in-store in selected major retail pharmacies to give those suffering from COPD a more flexible method of managing their condition. By signing up to the service through the pharmacy retail outlets, patients can benefit from COPD forecast alerts even if their local PCT is not involved. This means that means more people with COPD will be able to get improved access to advice and support.

Katie Russell, Met Office Business Manager for Health, said: “We are excited to be working with the NHS and GPs surgeries again this year, as well as running pilot Healthy Outlook® services in retail pharmacies. The Met Office has been involved in COPD Health forecasting for a number of years and we are thrilled to be able to expand our network of expertise and support this winter.

“We have two major retail pharmacies working with us to broaden the reach of Healthy Outlook® and we are all keen to see how the pilots work across the UK.  The involvement of the Co-operative Pharmacy is proving to be a valuable route for patients to receive the service.”

When patients sign up to the service they will receive a patient pack containing advice and tools that can help them to manage their condition. They will also be alerted to conditions in the environment which are expected to increase the risk of symptoms of COPD becoming worse by an automated telephone call to a number of their choice.

Jane Devenish, Clinical Services Pharmacist at The Co-operative Pharmacy, said: “People with COPD can do a number of things to reduce the risk of their condition flaring up, such as minimising exposure to cold air and making sure they don’t run out of medication. With the alerts that are received through the Healthy Outlook® service people can make sure they are prepared for the periods when the weather takes a turn for the worse.”

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