Exercise plan must be part of COPD rehabilitation, audit recommends

Many people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are not being referred for rehabilitation, researchers have concluded.


The report reveals significant variations in waiting times and quality of care for pulmonary rehab

A report for the national COPD audit programme also says that 37 per cent of people in England and Wales are waiting longer than the three months recommended in British Thoracic Society quality standards.

And of those who do receive pulmonary rehabilitation, 40 per cent do not complete their programme, according to the document titled Pulmonary Rehabilitation: Steps to Breathe Better.

In recommendations aimed at commissioners, provider organisations, referrers for rehab and practitioners the report says

  • local pulmonary rehab programmes should make sure all patients attending a discharge assessment get a written, individualised plan for ongoing exercise
  • all programmes must have the capacity to assess and enrol all patients within three months of referral
  • and programmes must be designed to encourage patients to complete their treatment

Mike McKevitt, head of patient services at the British Lung Foundation, said: ‘With more than a million people living with diagnosed COPD in this country, it is of vital importance that the findings of this audit are acted on.’

The report is based on research with nearly 7,500 patients who were assessed for pulmonary rehabilitation by 210 programmes across England and Wales over three months in early 2015.

It follows National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) COPD quality standards issued on 4 February which set out that programmes of pulmonary rehab should start four weeks after people are discharged from hospital.

For further information on what guidelines say about pulmonary rehabilitation classes, take a look at the Inspire resource  

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