COPD framework to cut growing burden on NHS

Ministers may publish a COPD outcomes framework in the coming months to tackle the growing burden of the disease, GP has learned.

Treating COPD costs the NHS almost £1bn a year (Photograph: SPL)
Treating COPD costs the NHS almost £1bn a year (Photograph: SPL)

Merseyside GP Dr Matt Kearney, a DoH primary care clinical advisor, said that ministers are considering a new outcomes-focused strategy to improve disease management and prevention.

This would build on proposals for a COPD strategy that were the subject of a consultation last year, he said.

COPD costs the NHS in England almost £1bn a year and, despite recent advances, 25,000 people die each year from the disease.

Speaking at a Westminster Health Forum conference in London last week, Dr Kearney said ongoing NHS reforms needed to tackle the huge variations in outcomes and diagnosis rates that exist across England.

'It will be very helpful to engage GPs, to show how such variation leads to increased hospital admissions,' he said.

Reducing hospital admissions from COPD would be a 'ripe area' for GP consortia seeking to make efficiency savings, Dr Kearney said. He added that an estimated 7,800 lives could be saved each year if the NHS as a whole matched the performance of the top quarter of PCTs, he added.

Last April, the DoH launched a consultation on a draft national clinical strategy for COPD, including 24 recommendations to improve disease prevention and management. But the coalition government has yet to publish a finalised strategy.

However, under the 2011/12 NHS Operating Framework, PCTs have been asked to 'continue the task' of delivering the draft strategy's recommendations. Meanwhile, the DoH is working with the RCGP to increase GP awareness of the challenges of COPD management in their area.

Last October, health secretary Andrew Lansley announced that a COPD support pack would be produced to help GP consortia design and commission services for patients.

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