Southampton nurses urge public to get free 'lung MOT'

Writing on a clipboard

Doctors and nurses at Southampton’s teaching hospitals have urged members of the public to visit them for a free ‘lung MOT’.

Staff from the respiratory centre at Southampton General Hospital will be joined by British Lung Foundation representatives at an event at the city’s Southampton Park Hotel on Wednesday (14 November) to mark World Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Day.

The condition, which causes the airways in the lungs to become inflamed and narrowed and can lead to a range of breathing diseases including bronchitis and emphysema, is responsible for more than 100 deaths in Southampton every year.

Across the UK, where smoking is the leading cause of COPD, it is estimated around two million people remain undiagnosed and at risk of contracting a more severe form of the disease as they get older.

“Around 22% of Southampton residents – one of the largest proportions in England – smoke and, as the leading cause of COPD and with so many people unaware they have the condition, we need to keep pushing it up the agenda,” said Mal North, a COPD clinical nurse specialist at Southampton General.

Participants will undertake a five-minute spirometry test to measure their lung capacity and, if the results raise concern, they will be given a letter to take to their GP for further investigation.

He added: “Our event is now in its third year and, on each occasion, we have found lung problems in around a third of all attendees, which enabled us to send them in the right direction for help.

“It’s like an MOT for the lungs and it really does change lives, because early intervention in this condition leads to better outcomes for the patient and prevents unnecessary admissions to hospital.”

People will also be offered advice to help stop smoking by Solent NHS Trust’s Southampton Quitters team, information on benefits and guidance on the range of inhalers available and how to use them correctly.

Last month, the journal Drugs and Therapeutics Bulletin revealed more than 45 million prescriptions for inhalers for patients respiratory conditions were distributed in England in 2011, but more than 50% of patients struggle to use the devices properly.

Respiratory nurse Kate Radford said: “While we are keen for anyone to come along for a check up, we also want to see what improvements we can make for people already suffering from COPD.

“Around 15% of respiratory admissions are simply due to the misuse of inhalers, so if we can help to correct this, we will hopefully make daily life a lot easier while also reducing unnecessary trips to hospital.”

The day will also offer healthcare professionals the chance to find out more about a novel venture – the Southampton City Integrated COPD Team – which brings together community, GP and hospital services.

Dr Zoe Pond, a newly-appointed community respiratory consultant, said: “In addition to patient education, it’s also important that anyone who cares for people with COPD learns about the innovative services we provide to give their patients the best access to the right care and I urge them to drop in.”

The event, organised by University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust and Solent NHS Trust will be open from 10am to 4pm at Southampton Park Hotel (Cumberland Place). For more information on the day’s activities, call 07768 295 056.

Posted on Thursday 8 November 2012