SERVICES for almost 12,000 patients in Gwent who suffer a chronic, incurable lung disease will be modified to make them more consistent, and to reduce hospital admissions.
Under Gwent’s five old Local Health Boards, different services were developed for patients living with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).
Aneurin Bevan Health Board now wants to develop a Gwent-wide service to iron out differences, ensuring all patients receive the same quality of treatment and care.
And board bosses believe that if more focus is put on helping patients become experts in managing their own conditions, allied to the healthcare expertise available in Gwent, scores of hospital admissions can be avoided.
Respiratory conditions such as COPD are the most common chronic illnesses in Wales, resulting in high rates of unplanned hospital admissions.
And because most patients are elderly, lengths of stay are usually longer.
Blaenau Gwent and Torfaen have been standard bearers for improving the management of chronic conditions like COPD, and if length of stay and admission rates achieved in these areas can be replicated across Gwent, around 2,000 hospital bed days per year could be saved.
A further 1,000 bed days could be saved if COPD admissions can be cut by 20 per cent.
The need to improve COPD management and reduce admissions is growing more urgent given that the number of cases is growing.
In 2009/10 in Gwent, there were 11,893 COPD patients registered, a 6.2 per cent increase over two years.
As well as investing in making patients’ expertise, the health board wants to address a number of issues, including a lack of seven-day services, long waits for assessments for oxygen services, and differences in rehabilitation programmes.
South Wales Argus