ALMOST one in five people tested as part of a town campaign have been found to have a chronic lung disease.
A total of 1,151 Hartlepool residents were screened for Chronic Obstructive Pulmanory Disorder (COPD) in the Lung Health Check programme.
Opportunity to slow down the progression of the disease and reduce impact on quality of lifeLouise Wallace, Director of Public Health for Hartlepool
And the disease linked to smoking, was discovered in 224 people, just under a fifth of cases.
An action plan to raise awareness and help 1,600 estimated undiagnosed sufferers in Hartlepool was agreed by the town’s Health and Wellbeing Board last September.
The body’s membership includes Hartlepool Borough Council, which is responsible for public health, the hospital trust, service commissioners, Hartlepool & District Hospice and the patient group Healthwatch Hartlepool.
About 70 per cent of newly diagnosed cases have mild to moderate COPD.
Louise Wallace, Hartlepool’s director of public health, said in a report to the board: “This presents the opportunity for effective clinical management and support to patients to slow down the progression of the disease and reduce impact on quality of life.”
The screening programme started in January 2013.
Up to December last year, 11 per cent of the eligible population had been checked at GP practices involving face to face assessments.
The screening is targeted at smokers aged 35 and older.
Just over half of those seen and diagnosed with the disease are from Hartlepool’s most deprived areas.
Ms Wallace said it was a sign the programme is helping to reduce health inequalities.
As part of the action plan, changes have been made to improve patients’ access to a respiratory clinician within the Hartlepool Community Respiratory Assessment and Management Service (CRAMS).
The town’s public health department is promoting a questionnaire in community and health venues to raise awareness and find undiagnosed cases.
And clinicians are currently carrying out a review of COPD and Pulmanory Rehab services towards the aim of more integrated services and lead to less severe cases of COPD.
The review is due to be completed by September.
The British Lung Foundation estimates Hartlepool had 1,602 undiagnosed cases.