NHS staff take to the streets for National COPD Awareness Day

NHS staff will be out on the streets of Suffolk and north east Essex next week to mark National COPD Awareness Day.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) describes a group of lung conditions that make it difficult for sufferers to breathe because their airways have been narrowed.

People with COPD often find everyday tasks a real challenge, and millions of people across Britain need to use inhalers to assist their breathing.

Hundreds of thousands more have COPD and don’t know it, leaving them struggling with a lower quality of life as their condition progresses quickly because they are not receiving treatment.

This year National COPD Awareness Day falls on Wednesday 16th November.

To help raise awareness of the condition across Suffolk and north east Essex, NHS clinicians will be visiting local shopping centres on three days next week.

One of the main themes they will be raising will be the pressing need for people with COPD to start switching to more environmentally friendly inhalers.

The propellants in many commonly used metered-dose inhalers (MDIs) are powerful environmentally damaging greenhouse gases, many of which remain in the canister after use.

Health chiefs will instead be urging COPD sufferers to switch from MDIs to lower carbon inhalers to help in the battle against climate change.

Rachel Belton, Deputy Chief Pharmacist with the Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care Board (SNEE ICB), said: “There are nearly 100,000 people in Suffolk and north east Essex using inhalers to treat COPD and asthma.

“Surgeries across Suffolk and north east Essex are currently contacting people with COPD and asthma and asking them to attend an inhaler review.

“If you are contacted to attend an inhaler review with your GP, a practice nurse or pharmacist please keep your appointment.

“They will be able to check you are using your inhaler in the most effective way to treat your condition.

“They may also be able to provide you with a more environmentally-friendly, low carbon inhaler to replace your MDI one.

“This could be a dry powder inhaler (DPI) or soft mist inhaler (SMI) which do not contain the greenhouse gases.

“Not all patients can use these sorts of inhalers, but many patients find them easier to use.”

The local NHS teams will be at the ARC shopping centre in Bury St Edmunds on Monday (Nov 14) from 10am to 3.30pm.

They will also be on The Cornhill in Ipswich on Tuesday (Nov 15) and Culver Square in Colchester on Wednesday (Nov 16) during the same hours.

Rachel added: “We’ll be easy to spot as we will have a giant inflatable inhaler attached to our gazebo.

“We’d be delighted to talk to anyone who suffers from COPD or asthma and would like advice on how to best use their inhalers, or who is interested in doing their bit to help save the planet by switching to a greener type of inhaler.”