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City CCG Board approve extension of telehealth pilot scheme

More patients with a serious lung condition in Leicester are set to benefit from an innovative scheme which more than halved the number of hospital admissions relating to patients with COPD over the past 19 weeks.

A decision has been taken by the Leicester City Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) governing body to approve proposals to extend the telehealth pilot scheme to a further 100 patients with lung disease.

So far 50 patients are signed up to the project. They all suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a form of lung disease.

The project involves a computer being set up in the patients’ home and having direct access to a specialist respiratory nurse and a dedicated health coach. Each morning the patient is required to answer a number of questions about their breathing and general health as well as test their blood pressure. These answers are then sent electronically to a mobile specialist respiratory nurse. If the results are cause for concern, the nurse will go and visit the patient to ensure they are healthy and are not developing a chest infection or other complication in relation to their condition.

Claudia Gethin from Braunstone, Leicester, said: “Having the computer in my home, means that every morning when I wake up I can go on the system and enter how I am feeling. I am restricted to only downstairs in the house now, so it helps that my family live across the road and they can come round and are trained on the computer also, and the blood pressure monitor in case a feel too poorly to do it myself. I did used to go into hospital quite a bit with my lungs, but since having this in my home and the support of Rachel, I feel a lot happier. I know that if I start to get a chest infection, Rachel will see my results and pop round to check my chest. It gives me peace of mind.”

Rachel Braithwaite, a specialist respiratory nurse working on behalf of Leicester City CCG and Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, said: “This scheme is really helping local patients. Usually I would only get to see my patients once a fortnight. This system means that I can pick up information on their health and wellbeing on a daily basis, so I’ll know instantly if they are feeling a bit poorly and need me to pop in and give them a check-up. I can work a lot closer with my patients this way.”

Professor Azhar Farooqi, GP and Chair of the Leicester City CCG, said: “We are delighted with the results from the first 50 patients and we have seen a real improvement to the quality of life these patients are experiencing. We have received fantastic feedback from the patients using the equipment, and generally most patients seem to be feeling a lot more confident about managing what can be a worrying condition, in their own home.

“We want to be able to prevent hospital admissions, treat and keep patients who don’t require hospital treatment in their own homes and familiar surroundings. Research shows if patients do suffer an episode of ill health they can recover faster at home. By expanding the project we home to keep even more patients out of hospital that do not need to be there.”

COPD is the name for a collection of lung diseases including chronic bronchitis, emphysema and chronic obstructive airways disease. People with COPD have difficulties breathing, primarily due to the narrowing of their airways, this is called airflow obstruction.

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