A programme which combines hospital, GP and home care for patients with severe breathing conditions across Hampshire has been nationally recognised for its success.
Led by the respiratory centre at Southampton General Hospital, the project sees doctors and nurses visit GP surgeries to help diagnose, treat and manage patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
The team won the Health Service Journal’s Acute and Primary Care Innovation award for their work, which has led to a 19% drop in hospital admissions in the past year.
COPD, the name for a collection of lung diseases including bronchitis and emphysema, causes the airways in the lungs to become inflamed and narrowed, making it hard for sufferers to breathe.
The condition, which cannot be cured but can be managed effectively with early intervention and regular assessment to limit the worsening of symptoms, accounts for 10% of admissions to emergency departments and costs the NHS £1billion a year.
As well as supporting colleagues with treatment, the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust team, led by respiratory consultants Dr Simon Bourne and Dr Tom Wilkinson, focus on improving symptoms though nutrition and physical activity and educating patients on how to handle future problems.
Additionally, the team runs a 'hospital at home' scheme, where nurses visit patients regularly at home to ensure they are coping well, and a 24-hour helpline for emergencies.
“We have created a smooth, simple and effective pathway for patients from diagnosis to ongoing treatment that has only been possible through the close relations we have built between hospital staff and GP surgeries, as well as with other community healthcare providers,” said Dr Bourne.
“We are not only seeing more tailored, individualised care for patients who require careful and specialist management, we are also preventing hospital admissions, which frees up valuable resources in hospital to deal with the increasing demand on our service.”
Posted on Friday 18 November 2011