Breathe Easy support groups save health service cash

Feature on the Hardwick CCCG North Breathe Easy Group, pictured are members of the group promoting Breathe Easy Week
Feature on the Hardwick CCCG North Breathe Easy Group, pictured are members of the group promoting Breathe Easy Week

A support network set up for people with lung problems is saving the health service vital cash by keeping people out of hospital and out of doctors’ surgeries.

Breathe Easy has more than 230 groups nationwide to help and educate people with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), which covers conditions such as pneumoconiosis, asthma, emphysema, mesothelioma and bronchitis.

Dr Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, said: “Our Breathe Easy support groups have become the heart of the British Lung Foundation. They have give people with lung conditions the space to build friendships, get advice and support and empower themselves to better manage their condition.”

Tom Thorpe is chairman of a group which meets in Danesmoor, one of four Breathe Easy branches operating across a patch covered by NHS Hardwick Commissioning Care Group with the others based in Bolsover, Shirebrook and South Normanton.

He said: “Breathe Easy helps people to learn how to sit properly, how to breathe properly, how to use their inhalers and what they should and shouldn’t do.

“If someone is coughing and wheezing and rings up 999 on a Friday night, it costs £1,000 to pick them up by ambulance and get them through A & E. Savings are achieved by self-management of their condition, which means people not being admitted to hospitals and not needing doctors’ appointments.”

Self-management of conditions resulted in Hardwick CCG saving £110,000 in the year ending February 2016.

Dr Steve Lloyd, chairman of NHS Hardwick CCG Group, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with the British Lung Foundation and invest in a scheme which focuses on the benefits of exercise and education, helping patients to live a healthy life and manage their condition.

“Breathe East groups are helping patients to have a better quality of life by developing their understanding of their condition and to develop strong friendships where patients support one another and share experiences. These groups are vital in helping patients to continue living a healthy lifestyle and to better understand how we can self-manage their condition.”