Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the term used to describe a group of lung conditions that cause breathing difficulties including emphysema, chronic bronchitis and non-reversible asthma. COPD is a common condition that mainly (but not exclusively) affects middle aged or older adults who are smokers. More information on COPD including diagnosis, management and statistics can be found through the British Lung Foundation COPD website.
Patients with acute COPD may often be admitted to hospital to manage their symptoms. One in eight (130,000) emergency admissions to hospital is for COPD, making it the second largest cause of emergency admission in the UK and one of the most costly inpatient conditions treated by the NHS. Evidence suggests that providing a package of measures at discharge – a ‘care bundle’ – can help patients cope better once home and potentially reduce readmission rates.
The care bundle being adopted nationally was developed by the British Thoracic Society and NHS Improvement. It brought together clinical subject matter experts to find consensus in essential components of care, to improve COPD patients’ outcomes. The care bundles were assessed in a pilot project. The care bundle includes five key elements:
- Assessment of inhaler technique
- Provision of a written patient self-management action plan and (where appropriate) an emergency drug pack
- The offer of referral for support to stop smoking
- Access to a treatment programme that can help people with a lung condition stay active (pulmonary rehabilitation)
- Appropriate follow-up arrangements
The key national programme ambition is to support an increase in the proportion of patients in acute hospitals receiving every element of the British Thoracic Society COPD discharge care bundle (for which they are eligible) to 80% by March 2022.