Hospital admissions due to a form of lung disease have dropped by 20% in nine months in areas which have signed up to the UK Met Office’s weather alert service for patients.
The service forecasts when atmospheric conditions pose a risk to patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and gives them advice on what measures they can take to keep themselves healthy.
More than 8,000 patients in almost 190 practices across the UK have signed up for the “Healthy Outlook COPD Forecast Alert”, which was launched last November and costs £18 per patient per winter.
The scheme includes training in health forecasting for healthcare professionals, a weekly or twice-weekly forecast sent via email, and an enhanced scheme which warns patients directly when the forecast reaches the “elevated” category.
Some 900,000 people in England have COPD, and each year there are 100,000 COPD-related hospital admissions. The cost to the NHS of caring for COPD patients is estimated at almost GBP 1bn annually.
Areas that have already signed up to the Met Office’s scheme include Rhondda Cynon Taff Local Health Board, East Lothian, Moray and West Glasgow Community Health Partnerships, Worcestershire, Bradford, Cornwall, West Cheshire, Stoke, Torbay and Devon Primary Care Trusts.
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