Working parties are preparing guidelines on how to improve spirometry in primary care after figures have shown that patients most frequently consult primary care about respiratory problems.
Due to the high levels of patients presenting with COPD the Department of Health (DH) decided that formal accreditation will be needed for practice nurses and GPs to deliver this service. Adequate time must be allowed for practices to gain the necessary training, and the process must be simple and accessible so that practices are not deterred, the DH said.
Although patients' access to spirometry had improved, the DH remains concerned about the accuracy of the spirometric-based diagnosis, with inadequate training for practice nurses and GPs in the use of the equipment and interpretation of results.
NHS data for 2012/13 has shown patients most frequently consult their GP or practice nurse for circulatory and respiratory symptoms such as coughs, wheezing, or breathlessness (nearly 1·5 million estimated contacts per year) in Scottish GP practices.
This relates to an an estimated 25 per cent of the UK population visit their GP every year for upper-respiratory-tract infections alone.
By contrast, more than 800,000 estimated contacts were reported for patients with diabetes, and only 28 per cent of these were with a GP.