Plans have been announced to transform the lives of millions of people with respiratory diseases.
The government outcomes strategy for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and asthma is intended to improve the lives of patients with breathing difficulties by coordinating the efforts of the NHS, social care and voluntary organisations.
Health secretary Andrew Lansley said: “Once implemented, this outcomes strategy will help to improve awareness of good lung health, reduce the number of people with respiratory disease and improve the quality of life for those diagnosed.
“This will reduce the number of deaths by focusing on better prevention, earlier diagnosis and excellent care and management of COPD and asthma.”
COPD is the umbrella term for a number of lung conditions including chronic bronchitis and emphysema and affects more than three million people in England.
It is the fifth biggest killer in the UK and the only major cause of death on the increase. The UK has the second highest mortality rate from COPD and asthma in Europe and costs the NHS more than £2 billion a year. It is thought that one in eight adults aged over 35 has undiagnosed COPD.
As a result of the strategy, everyone affected by COPD and asthma can expect to have a care planning discussion with their healthcare professional which will allow individuals to personalise their care, identify any problems and seek help before their symptoms worsen.
The British Lung Foundation said the new strategy could potentially halve hospital admissions from patients suffering from COPD.
Welcoming the plan, the foundation’s chief executive Dame Helena Shovelton said: “It will offer improved treatment and care to millions of people suffering with these life-threatening and debilitating conditions.
“However, in order to have a real impact we need to see this strategy put into action across the country.”
Neil Churchill, chief executive of Asthma UK, said: “Today’s announcement is an important step towards improvement in asthma care and we look forward to working with the NHS to implement its key objectives.”