The Irish Thoracic Society calls for the implementation of the National COPD Framework
To mark World COPD Day, today 19th November, the Irish Thoracic Society is highlighting the serious impact of COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) on Irish lives and on the health system and is calling for urgent action to address this.
The Irish Thoracic Society calls for the speedy implementation of the National Respiratory (COPD) Framework in order to stem the rising health and economic burden of COPD in Ireland
To mark World COPD Day, today 19th November, the Irish Thoracic Society, the representative body for Irish respiratory healthcare professionals, is highlighting the serious impact of COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) on Irish lives and on the health system and is calling for urgent action to address this.
COPD is an umbrella term for a number of chronic lung disorders including chronic bronchitis and emphysema. It is estimated that 440,000 people in Ireland have COPD. It is a serious and costly disease predominantly caused by smoking and mainly affecting those over 35 years of age. It is also preventable and early diagnosis and treatment can dramatically reduce the serious deterioration in quality of life and the cost that comes with severe COPD.
Significant challenges face the Irish health service in the future management of COPD:
Under-diagnosis: recent international studies indicate that 25% to 50% of people with clinically significant COPD don’t know they have the disease.
The burden of COPD on the acute hospital system: respiratory diseases, largely represented by COPD, are the third most common cause of acute hospital admission.
Cost of COPD: The average cost of COPD per hospital in-patient case is 39% higher than the average case cost. In 2004 over half a million workdays were lost due to respiratory disease, largely represented by COPD.
Increasing prevalence: the health burden of COPD will continue to increase in line with Ireland’s ageing population. COPD increases with age and 50% of those over 70 have the disease.
However there is reason for optimism in the form of the recently completed National Respiratory (COPD) Framework, developed under the HSE’s Transformation Programme.
“This framework, developed by a multi-disciplinary group including the ITS, is based on a co-ordinated approach between hospital, community and primary care. It is designed to tackle the negative effects of COPD on quality of life and on the health service through prevention, early diagnosis and effective management of the disease in the most appropriate setting.” explained Dr JJ Gilmartin, President of the ITS and a member of the National COPD Strategy Group.
“The potential positive impact on patients’ lives and on the health system (in terms of reduced costs and acute hospital admissions) that would result from the implementation of this framework cannot be underestimated. As we face another Winter of high death rates and acute hospital admissions due to COPD, we are calling on the government and the HSE to commit to its implementation without delay,” said Dr Gilmartin.
“Prevention and early diagnosis, with smoking cessation a key feature, are central to this framework. COPD is preventable because people who never smoke or who stop smoking early will not get the disease. Equally, longer term smokers with symptoms such as cough, phlegm and even breathlessness who give up smoking will find that their symptoms dissipate. Effective and efficient management and support services spanning primary, community and hospital care also play a key role. Although these elements currently exist in the system there are significant gaps and inconsistencies. The implementation of the National Respiratory (COPD) Framework would provide a seamless and sustainable system of care which would dramatically transform the future for our patients with COPD,” he concluded.
For further information contact:
Suzanne McCormack – The Irish Thoracic Society
Tel -01 2835252/086 8573927