Local residents flocked to a free respiratory event in Skelmersdale which was organised by NHS West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
The purpose of the event, which took place in The Concourse on Friday 23 and Saturday 24 September 2016, was to welcome anyone interested in finding out more about breathlessness. The two days attracted residents from across the region to find out the potential health warnings that breathlessness could indicate, where to access help and support, and what people could do to help with their health and wellbeing, such as giving up smoking and becoming more active.
Over the course of the two days, the medical experts on hand, including representatives from NHS West Lancashire CCG, Well Skelmersdale and Smoking Cessation offered advice, support and simple lung function tests, which highlighted the lung age of residents. With some shocking results for many of the smokers in attendance – with the oldest lung age recorded on the day at 141!
Many of the attendees who were smokers, were also unaware of the significantly increased risk of both lung cancer and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) due to smoking.
The subject of breathlessness and its link to a number of health conditions including COPD, heart disease and lung cancer has been prominent over recent months with Public Health England (PHE) and the British Lung Foundation (BLF) both running separate national campaigns, with PHE launching the latest ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ campaign and BLF launching their ‘Listen to your Lungs’ campaign.
In the UK it is estimated that 1.2 million people live with a diagnosis of COPD, making it the second largest diagnosed lung disease after asthma. However, research indicates that around two thirds of people are living with undiagnosed COPD. Within West Lancashire, Skelmersdale has a higher prevalence of COPD and higher hospital admissions for COPD than all other areas, with an estimated 20 per cent of its residents living with undiagnosed COPD.
Sandra Bonner, a specialist respiratory nurse at NHS West Lancashire CCG, who was on hand to speak to residents over the two days, said: “There is clearly an appetite from many of our residents to learn more about breathlessness.
“A significant number of people who attended were smokers, many of whom were shocked to find out just how much damage this was causing to their health.
“Thankfully they left our event with the support that they needed to make the necessary changes to improve their lives.”
Claire Heneghan, chief nurse at West Lancashire CCG and respiratory health lead for Well Skelmersdale, said:
“With such large numbers coming through the doors over the two days, it was clear that many people are not aware of and accessing the services that are readily available to them.
“So much so, that we plan to continue running regular events in Skelmersdale, which will focus on respiratory health. However, as we get into the winter, we will also offer support, advice and guidance on other key health issues, such as accessing free flu vaccinations* and staying well over the winter months.”
If you have an interest in respiratory or would like to sign up to hear more about any future health events happening locally, please sign up to the CCG’s My View group via its website: https://www.westlancashireccg.nhs.uk/myview/.
* Free flu vaccinations are available to anyone aged 65 years or over, pregnant women, carers, anyone aged under 65 with a serious long-term health condition (such as COPD, heart disease and diabetes), children aged two, three and four, plus school children in years one, two and three. If you are entitled to a free flu vaccination, visit your GP.