Charity urges Scottish Government to take action on chest disease

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Treatment for people with chronic chest disease has been described as a “postcode lottery” by campaigners.

Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland said the country has one of the worst records on chest disease in Europe, with more than 129,000 people living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

It is calling on the Scottish Government to take action.

The charity wants a “right to rehab” to be introduced, including investment and leadership in tackling the availability of pulmonary rehabilitation to make sure people receive the best possible treatment.

People with the condition experience breathlessness, fatigue and anxiety but rehabilitation is said to improve their health, although it remains an incurable disease.

Figures for 2017-18 show the average waiting time for to pulmonary rehabilitation in Great Glasgow and Clyde is three to four weeks while it can be up to 29 weeks in Ayrshire and Arran.

Waiting times for NHS Lothian stands at 10 weeks, while it is 14 to 23 weeks in Grampian, 8.5 in Tayside, 12 to 24 weeks in Fife and eight to 16 weeks in the Highlands.

On World COPD day, Jane-Claire Judson, chief executive of Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, said:  “These new figures show that there isn’t universal and equal access to Pulmonary Rehabilitation across Scotland.

“This needs to change. That’s why we are urging the Scottish Government to take action.

“Behind these figures are missed opportunities to help people live a fuller life.

“It is unacceptable that so many people are missing out on pulmonary rehabilitation. We know chest disease can impact on every aspect of people’s lives.

“Breathlessness and fatigue can lead to anxiety and mental health problems which in turn can cause isolation. It is essential that people get the support they need.”

She added: “Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland wants to work with partners across the health and social care sector to help achieve a right to rehab.

“We have support and services in place across Scotland’s communities which could form part of a wider integrated rehabilitation pathway, helping people live as well as they can with their conditions.”

“We need investment and leadership at a national level to make sure that there is no life half lived for people with chest conditions in Scotland.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We recognise pulmonary rehabilitation is an important element of respiratory disease care, with its well-established evidence base helping support self-management and reduce exacerbation and hospital admissions.

“Pulmonary rehabilitation is a key recommendation in national clinical guidelines, which we expect NHS boards to follow, and access to it will form an important part of our Respiratory Care Action Plan for Scotland which will be published next year.”

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