Services for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary diease (COPD)

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, known as COPD, is a lung condition that affects one per cent of the UK population. Mostly caused by smoking, COPD results in gradually worsening breathlessness and may require admission to hospital. As a result of the very high incidence of smoking in the local population, COPD is the most common reason for emergency admission to the Whittington.

The respiratory team provide treatment, education and support to COPD patients to help them manage their condition more effectively. The Respiratory Early Discharge Service, known as REDS, helps patients admitted as an emergency to get home earlier. This service is provided by a skilled multi-disciplinary team of nurses, physiotherapists and doctors and works in conjunction with local primary care services. The aim of the REDS team is for patients to be discharged from hospital two to three days earlier than usual so that they can continue their treatment and recovery in the comfort of their own home under the care of their GP.


A small number of the many patients we treat suffering from COPD have repeated and prolonged admissions. In 2003, we introduced a Chronic Respiratory Support service, known as CRS, to help reduce the number and duration of these admissions. This service has proved very popular with patients. Short-term support from the CRS consists of four to six visits by a respiratory physician or respiratory nurse specialist, followed by monthly contact. Long-term support consists of weekly visits.


Patients admitted with COPD who are limited by breathlessness can be offered pulmonary rehabilitation. This programme consists of supervised individually tailored exercise as well as advice and support on how to live with the condition. Patients are offered two sessions of pulmonary rehabilitation per week for eight weeks and are given a home exercise programme to be undertaken at least once a week.


The REDS and the CRS service also help patients to recognise worsening symptoms, enabling them to start treatment as rapidly as possible in order to reduce the need for admission to hospital. Patients are given telephone helpline numbers and are encouraged to contact the team if they are concerned about their breathing. Urgent visits can be arranged in such circumstances.

The Whittington Hospitalís COPD service, led by Dr Louise Restrick together with Dr Myra Stern and Helen Broomfield, won the Hospital Doctor COPD Team Of The Year Award 2006, which was presented by Hospital Doctor magazine.

Last updated24 Jan 2007
Working on it!