The treatment and management of COPD has improved since 2008, but there are still areas of concern, a report published by the Royal College of Physicians has found.
The report, COPD who cares matters, found that admissions to hospital for COPD has risen by 13 per cent, compared to the national average of 22 per cent since 2008, citing the integration of primary and community services with secondary as a crucial factor in preserving the health and wellbeing of patients affected by COPD. The report also found that 80 per cent of hospitals had access to a supported discharge service in primary care, a substantial increase from 2008, which was shown to cut readmission rates for patients with COPD. The Royal College of Physicians will publish a further clinical audit focusing on the management of COPD in primary care in May 2015.
The report also states that people with COPD must be able to access specialist advice and treatment 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The importance of well-funded and effective smoking cessation services is also highlighted, as smoking is the most prominent cause of COPD.
Matthew Hodson, a COPD nurse consultant and the vice chair of the Association of Respiratory Nurse Specialists, said: 'The report highlights that improvements in care have been made but additional process and systems need to be addressed. The respiratory clinical nurse specialists are in a unique position to support this and have a fundamental role in the management and support of patients while in hospital and the community. They provide expert advice and knowledge in many different aspects of COPD care.'
Despite the positive indications in the report, there are still a number of areas of concern. The variations in care across England and Wales, particularly in the support and care of a patient after they have been discharged from hospital, and the availability of specialist respiratory care services, were highlighted as areas which need to be improved upon.
Dr Peter Carter, the chief executive of the RCN said: 'Clinical nurse specialists have a very high level of experience and expertise, and by sharing this with people living with COPD and other professionals can help keep people well and out of hospital. The evidence is clear – we need more of these posts to give all patients the highest level of care, and failing to invest in them is a false economy.'