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National strategy to transform care for millions with respiratory disease

National strategy to transform care for millions with respiratory disease

News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 18 July 2011

UK has second highest death rate in Europe from respiratory diseases
Plans to transform the care, quality of life and health outcomes for millions of people with respiratory disease were announced today by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley.

Respiratory diseases represent a major problem in England for patients and the NHS. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is thought to affect more than three million people in England and more than five million people currently receive treatment for Asthma.

The UK has the second highest mortality rate from COPD and asthma in Europe (1). However, if the UK was performing at the EU average for respiratory disease then we would save over 2,000 extra lives a year. Further if all parts of the country could reduce death rates to those areas with the lowest death rates, then up to 8,000 lives a year would be saved from COPD alone.

Due to a lack of recognition of symptoms this leads to late diagnosis and poor outcomes – one in eight adults aged over 35 has COPD that has not been diagnosed. More people are admitted to hospital in an emergency for respiratory diseases than anything else (12 per cent of all emergency admissions) and COPD is the fifth biggest killer in the UK.

It also represents a huge cost for the NHS and for patients – together COPD and asthma cost the NHS more than £2 billion a year and COPD alone is responsible for 24 million lost working days.

The Outcomes Strategy for COPD and Asthma will drive improvements in outcomes for patients through the new REACT approach. This coordinates the efforts of the NHS, patients, social care and voluntary organisations can help people avoid lung disease and to lead longer and healthier lives:

Respiratory health and good lung health;Early accurate diagnosis;Active partnership between healthcare professionals and people with COPD/asthma;Chronic disease management (and good control of symptoms); andTargeted evidence-based treatment for the individual.

Everyone affected by COPD and asthma can also expect to have a care planning discussion with their healthcare professional. This will allow individuals to personalise their care and plan their lung health on an ongoing basis so that they can identify any problems and seek help before their symptoms worsen.

Underpinning the REACT approach, the Outcomes Strategy identifies six objectives that will drive work to transform respiratory care within the health and social care system. These are:

better prevention of COPD;reducing premature death;improving quality of life;improving safe and effective care;reducing the impact of asthma; andreducing inequalities in access to and quality of services.

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.

“We want to liberate the NHS and give staff the freedom to work across boundaries with patients and other professionals to provide a more responsive and personalised NHS.

“This is just the start in helping fundamentally to reduce the burden of respiratory disease and transform for the better the health outcomes and quality of life for millions of people.”

The strategy has been consulted on widely and has been developed with key patient groups including the British Lung Foundation and Asthma UK, healthcare professionals from both primary and secondary care as well as patients and carers.

Dame Helena Shovelton, Chief Executive of the British Lung Foundation said:

“We are delighted to welcome the COPD and Asthma Outcomes Strategy. 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.

“The BLF will continue to work with the Department of Health to ensure this happens and that anyone affected by COPD and Asthma receives excellent standards of care and treatment wherever they live.”

Neil Churchill, Chief Executive of Asthma UK said:

“We warmly welcome the publication of this vital strategy. Every seven minutes someone with asthma is admitted into hospital, and asthma costs the NHS more than £1 billion per year. 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.

“The NHS has set some challenging outcomes to reduce asthma deaths and emergency hospital admissions and this renewed clinical leadership is timely and important. We hope to see the quality standard on asthma becoming a real benchmark of high quality care, based on all the evidence, which should help to reduce the current unwarranted variation in asthma outcomes across the country.”

More detailed work will now take place on how the NHS can improve respiratory care, focussed on how clinical commissioning groups can ensure that local patients get the best care from local services and national and local initiatives. Other work to support implementation includes:

NHS Improvement is working with clinical teams to test different models of care for patients with COPD and asthma to drive up the quality of care;Each NHS region has appointed leads who specialise in respiratory disease to help drive up the quality of care and provision across the country and help reduce variation;NICE will shortly be publishing a Quality Standard on COPD and will be developing a Quality Standard for asthma, and also look at new indicators for the quality framework that GPs work to;A National Review of Asthma Deaths, led by the Royal College of Physicians, which will look at the circumstances surrounding every death from asthma in England over a 12 month period; andPublic Health England will look at improving how employers help people with asthma in the workplace.

Notes to Editors

1. WHO European health for all database – EU15 (HFA-DB):

2. For media enquiries only please contact the Department of Health press office on 020 7210 5221.

3. COPD currently costs the NHS around £800m every year and is responsible for 24 million lost working days estimated at costing £2.7 billion. It is a condition that progressively damages the lungs making it increasingly difficult to breathe. Whilst this cannot be reversed, early diagnosis and effective treatment can slow its progress.

4. Asthma is more common than COPD and symptoms are generally milder, with the right treatment the vast majority of people with asthma can lead normal lives. Deaths from asthma have stabilised to around 1000 a year in England for the last few years but the vast majority of these could be prevented.

5. You can see the strategy at:

6. NHS Improvement has further resources, case studies and tools on their website at:

7. Further case studies are available from the British Lung Foundation (contact Katherine Huntly on 020 7688 5565) and from Asthma UK (contact Sharon Hatt on 020 7786 4983).


Department of Health
Phone: 020 7210 5221

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