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COPD could cost UK economy £1.2bn

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New research has shown that COPD could cost the economy £1.2bn each year.

A new economic impact model has shown that as the disease heads towards being the third biggest cause of death globally by 20201, the economic impact is significant.

The findings, presented by Education for health, highlight an urgent need to keep individuals with COPD active and contributing to society for the benefit of all.

The COPD economic model was developed to provide the first step to uncovering the size of the economic impact of COPD amongst the working age population.

According to its calculations, in the UK alone, the economic burden is £1.2billion per annum, this includes not only direct healthcare costs, but factors such as lost income tax, payment of state benefits and productivity loss due to COPD. These calculations are based on the current age of retirement - if this is increased then the economic impact will also rise.

Speaking at COPD7, an International Conference on COPD, Education for Health’s chief executive, Monica Fletcher said: “Studies have already shown that COPD has a devastating impact on quality of life, however, we now have a tool to enable us to determine the financial implications of this debilitating disease.

“These figures further demonstrate that early diagnosis and management of COPD may enable patients to maintain active and productive lives for longer, thereby helping to reduce the economic burden of the condition and improve patient quality of life”.

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Readers' comments (2)

  • CandyEFH

    Thank you Nursing Times for covering this latest news from our COPD Uncovered initiative. Key findings chronologically have been:

    1. Initial COPD Uncovered report (Nov 2009) reveals people a new younger majority of COPD patients age 40 to 65 as the new face of this disease. The report finds people in this age group miss as many as 10 hours per week becuase of their condition.

    2. 2 posters from EDucation for Health's 6 country survey were presented at the American Thoracic Society (ATS) Conference (May 2010). These showed every COPD patients experiences a lifetime loss of about $20 000 in lost income as a direct result of thier COPD and 1 in 5 of them are forced to retire early due to their condition - incurring health costs whilst reducing their personal contribution from taxation.

    3. Further esults from our international survey were presented at the International Primary Care Respiratory Group Conference (IPCRG) in Canada in June 2010. These showed the financial impact of COPD patients to governements on a monthly basis is £875 000; that half the 2426 patients surveyed had visited their GP at least once in the preceding 4 weeks. We also showed and compared the costs of treating these patients in primary care and secondary care.

    4. At COPD7 in early July 2010 we presented a new model showing £1.2 billion impact to the UK economy due to COPD in patients of working age. This is the story covered above. The slide set from COPD 7 and the posters from the ATS and IPCRG are downloadable from www.educationforhealth.org

    As you can imagine we're talking about this survey a lot at Education for Health. Chris Loveridge is our Clinical lead for COPD. She's hoping the combined weight of these findings, the latest NICE Guideline and forthcoming National COPD Strategy will encourage the healthcare community to focus on early diagnosis. In the words of our Chief Executive, Monica Fletcher "early diagnosis is critical is critical to enable patients to maintain active and productive lives for longer; reducing the economic burden and improving patient quality of life"



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  • Early screening for COPD should be fundamental to any service which deals with this disease and cares for patients .I worked for nearly 5 years for a respiratory service which was unable to cope with the demand for established COPD patient care and therefore struggled to find time to screen for early signs of people developing this disease.The 2004 G.P contract has been disappointing in improving early detection and in increasing spirometry in G.P practices , despite services like the one I recently left supporting practice nurses in learning this skill.The problem will always be services run understaffed for the scale of the problem and the lack of resources to deal with thease long-term chronic disease patients.

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