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Newcastle Gateshead Clinical Commisioning Group

Newcastle Gateshead Clinical Commisioning Group

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New service helps patients suffering from breathing difficulties

Launched last year, the Newcastle Healthy Lungs Programme is a rehabilitation service that is helping to treat patients suffering from breathing difficulties known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Funded by NHS Newcastle Gateshead Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), the service was developed by a range of organisations including specialists from Newcastle Hospitals and the British Lung Foundation, as well as patients with COPD.

Dr Rachel Cooper, a Newcastle GP and Clinical Director at NHS Newcastle Gateshead CCG said: “We are incredibly excited about the Newcastle Healthy Lungs programme.  It is an innovative service that offers patients newly diagnosed with COPD an opportunity to get the right education and information to help them stay well for as long as possible, and to get the support they need.”

COPD describes a number of conditions that cause breathing difficulties. It is estimated that about 1 million people in the UK have COPD, and that there are many more who haven’t been diagnosed.

Dr Cooper continued: “COPD is a significant issue for us in the North East where we have a heritage of industrial disease and have had high rates of smokers. COPD is a condition which does not get better and is very debilitating for people living with it.

“Being diagnosed with a condition like COPD is life changing and we recognise that patients need help and support to deal with the diagnosis, and to learn to live with their condition.  The service provides much more than education, information and support.

“Rehabilitation has been shown to improve how patients feel and how they are able to function, for example by improving the distance they can walk independently and the length of time they can walk for, this is really important for people with COPD to be able to live their life.”

Patients who are diagnosed with COPD will be referred to An initial one off session to help them understand their diagnosis and what they can do to manage their condition to help them stay well for as long as possible. They can also be referred to a six week programme of specialist advice, support and exercises that can be used to promote wellbeing. This is considered to be as important as any other treatment a COPD patient may be prescribed.

Service user, Eileen O’Brien of Fawdon, said: “This is a brilliant programme with lots of benefits, and I’m really pleased that I started. I know how to manage my breathlessness from the education talk that they provide.

“I have more energy now and want to go out shopping rather than sitting at home all day. It’s great to know that programmes like this exist!”

Maxine Warren of Gosforth has also attended the healthy lungs programme. She said: “I’m really pleased I started the programme. I feel looser and more mobile, and I’m very proud of myself. I appreciated working in a group, and the staff make a big difference.”

People can be referred to the Healthy Lungs Programme by their GP. For more information on the service, contact NHS Newcastle Gateshead CCG at www.newcastlegatesheadccg.nhs.uk or by calling 0191 217 2670.