Press Release

Minister Corcoran Kennedy opens COPD Support Ireland Patient conference

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy TD, Minister of State at the Department of Health with responsibility for Health Promotion today opened the COPD Support Ireland Patient conference.

‘I welcome the close links between the HSE’s National Clinical Programme for COPD and COPD Support Ireland’, said the Minister. ‘The work of the National Clinical Programme to build improved services and treatment outcomes is continuing. Today, I want to bring some focus on how the programme is getting on with addressing the high rate of hospital admissions.

‘The Programme is putting Respiratory Integrated Care Demonstrator services in place in our primary care settings,’ continued the Minister. ‘This means that Respiratory Clinical Nurse Specialists and Senior Physiotherapists are being appointed to deliver care and services in primary care. This is very positive and will specifically address the high rate of hospital admissions for people with COPD.’

Earlier this year, Respiratory Clinical Nurse Specialists and Senior Physiotherapists were appointed in 4 locations with links to hospitals. And again this year 6 additional sites for the appointment of these specialist nurses and Senior Physiotherapists were funded by the HSE. These 6 additional sites are also linked to a number of hospitals such as Mayo University Hospital, Galway University Hospital, Letterkenny, Tallaght, St James’s and Wexford. The recruitment of these health professionals is underway. The HSE expects that these posts will be filled by the end of this year.

‘The National Clinical Programme for COPD, which is led by Professor Tim McDonnell, is also advancing services in other areas for COPD patients’, added the Minister. ‘The programme:

  • Has established COPD outreach services in 12 acute hospitals;
  • has drafted a number of Models of Care for COPD, including models for COPD Outreach, Pulmonary Rehabilitation and Spirometry;
  • is paying for a patient support helpline hosted by COPD Support Ireland that was launched last July (this is in conjunction with a similar support line provided by the Asthma Society of Ireland);
  • has developed an education programme for spirometry with the Irish Association of Respiratory Physiologists.

The Minister continued, ‘Of course, there is more to be done with respect to COPD. The HSE’s National Clinical Programme for COPD will always be cognisant of this. We are making progress.‘All of these actions taken together are important steps to develop services and care for people living with COPD.’

Note for Editors

The HSE’s National Clinical Programme for COPD:

  • Has established COPD outreach services in 12 acute hospitals;
  • has drafted a number of Models of Care for COPD, including models for COPD Outreach, Pulmonary Rehabilitation and Spirometry;
  • has begun developing the National Clinical Guidelines for the Management of COPD;
  • is paying for a patient support helpline hosted by COPD Support Ireland that was launched last July (this is in conjunction with a similar support line provided by the Asthma Society of Ireland);
  • has developed an education programme for spirometry with the Irish Association of Respiratory Physiologists;
  • has developed plans such as the acute COPD admission management bundle, the National Self-Management Plan for those attending GPs and the Respiratory Passport for those attending hospitals in order to improve the quality of care for COPD patients and to reduce admissions and length of stay in hospitals.

The National Clinical Programme for COPD (NCP COPD) was established in 2010 under the clinical leadership of Prof Tim McDonnell and guidance from the COPD Clinical Advisory Group, chaired by Prof Stephen Lane. The aim of the NCP COPD is to design and standardise the delivery of high quality care for patients with COPD in Ireland through a range of actions and initiatives including the development of services, clinical guidelines, Integrated models of Care, educational materials, initiatives to better integrate primary and secondary care and by engaging with key stakeholders in order to ensure better care for those with COPD.

The NCP COPD is working closely with the Integrated Care Programme for the Prevention and Management of Chronic disease to better integrate primary and secondary care for COPD patients. Prof McDonnell, National Clinical Lead for NCP COPD is a member of the Steering Group for the Integrated Care Programme for the Prevention and Management of Chronic Disease alongside other Clinical Leads for chronic diseases and other key stakeholders.

Tobacco

The ban on smoking in cars with children present came into force on the 1st January 2016 and Regulations transposing the new European Tobacco Products Directive came into effect on 20 May 2016. The Regulations provide for more stringent rules for tobacco and related products and, from a public health perspective, focuses on limiting their appeal, in particular to young people. They include measures for labelling, ingredients, tracking and tracing, cross border distance sales and the regulation of electronic cigarettes, refill containers, herbal products for smoking and novel tobacco products.

The introduction of standardised packaging for tobacco products remains a priority. Amendments to the Act are being made to strengthen the legislative base. The intention is that the measures will be implemented as soon as the legislative process is completed. In addition, work is continuing on the drafting of a General Scheme of a Bill in relation to the sale of tobacco products and non-medicinal nicotine delivery systems, approved by Government in June 2014. The policy objectives are to protect minors and restrict access to tobacco products in order to further reduce the prevalence of smoking.

Recent surveys show a downward trend in smoking. The Healthy Ireland 2016 Survey found that 19% of the population (aged 15 and over) smoke on a daily basis. A further 4% identify themselves as occasional smokers. In the Health Behaviour in School Children Survey, 8% of children report they currently smoke, which is a decrease from 12% in 2010. It is important to continue the momentum by not only preventing young people from taking up the habit but by encouraging current smokers to quit and providing support to help them do so.