People living with respiratory illness in Northamptonshire are playing a central role in empowering themselves to choose well, stay well and live well with their condition.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) describes a range of conditions that cause breathing difficulties, including emphysema and chronic bronchitis. People with COPD can do a lot to help manage their condition themselves, including by keeping active and eating well, learning how to control their breathing and use their medications – but many lack the confidence, skills and knowledge to do this effectively.

That’s why NHCP is working closely with the local COPD community to ensure people with respiratory illness have access to the right information and support to care for themselves.

With help from Northamptonshire Carers, which runs our county’s Breathing Space lung health support groups, people with COPD are shaping the development of education resources by talking about what matters most to them in terms of diagnosis, treatment and care, and support with managing symptoms. This engagement work has drawn out a number of key themes relating to COPD care:

  • There is an appetite for more education around COPD and opportunities to learn
  • It doesn’t matter who is providing the education – as long as messages are consistent
  • Having better quality experiences of care (e.g. the ability to get a same-day GP appointment) matters more than needing fewer visits to GPs or hospital
  • The Rocket and Restart specialist respiratory teams at Kettering and Northampton General Hospitals are a valuable source of information – but not everyone has the same access to their services

Dr Az Ali, NHCP’s clinical lead for respiratory care, said: “By improving access to useful information on managing lung disease, our local services, and how to connect with others, we can make the most of the expertise, capacity and potential of people, families and communities in delivering better health and wellbeing outcomes and experiences.

“We are, therefore, gathering people with COPD and their families as well as health professionals and community groups to co-create a local information resource.

“We will be asking along the way for people to test it for usefulness, and hope that together we can make sure this helps increase people’s quality of
life so they stay well for longer.”

Work continues to improve local care

Respiratory illness – that which affects the lungs and breathing – is one of the most common types of long-term health problem experienced by people in Northamptonshire. We know that we can do more to prevent respiratory illness and improve services for people with existing conditions, and NHCP established a group earlier in the year to look at local services and deliver improvements in 2019 and 2020.

One of the workshops looking at respiratory care

As well as working with people to help them better manage their conditions (see article above), NHCP is also working to ensure more people with respiratory illness protect themselves against flu this winter with a free vaccination, and supporting local GP practices to provide better care for patients with lung conditions.

The Partnership has also held a series of workshops enabling professionals from across our county’s health and care organisations to look closely at the pathways of treatment and care people with respiratory illness experience in Northamptonshire, and how these could be improved. This work will help to shape priorities for respiratory services in 2020, placing a stronger focus on keeping people well in the community, promoting services to support rehabilitation, and improving early diagnosis of lung conditions.

Breathing Space service seeks clinicians to join team

Northamptonshire’s Breathing Space service is looking to recruit local health professionals to support its work in the north of the county for people with COPD.

Gwyn Roberts, deputy CEO at Northamptonshire Carers, said: “Breathing Space brings together a holistic team comprising of GPs, specialist nurses, peer supporters, volunteers and wellbeing practitioners. We are recruiting clinicians to provide one-to-one support in Corby, Moulton and Raunds. If you are a GP, specialist nurse or other health professional we are keen for you to join Breathing Space and be part of an innovative and effective way of managing long-term conditions while helping to reduce pressure on primary care and hospital services. Your commitment can be as little as one session per fortnight.”

For more information contact Gwyn Roberts on 01933 677837 or

These areas of work respond to the ‘Information’ and ‘Personalised Care’ categories of your Big Ideas