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Lung Health Awareness Month and World COPD Day

In our region, respiratory disease is the third leading cause of death. It accounts for 5% of hospitalisations and is one of the top two potentially preventable causes of hospitalisation, with around 970 people admitted to local hospitals from respiratory conditions each year.[1]

November is Lung Health Awareness month, and I welcome this opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of lung health, in particular Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), which affects 1 in 7 Australians[2].

We have partnered with Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District to reduce the number of COPD-related avoidable hospitalisations by 5%, as part of our COPD Collaborative initiative.

Since July, the COPD Collaborative has been working with 15 participating practices across our region to improve diagnosis and management of COPD through quality improvement initiatives and learning opportunities.

So far, we have successfully engaged with practices and the wider community through activities and practical training opportunities to improve the quality of life and care of people suffering from COPD.

One of the issues impacting people with respiratory conditions is that up to 90 per cent are using their life-saving inhalers incorrectly[3], which increases the risk of hospitalisation for asthma and COPD. Prompted by this, we held a ‘Managing COPD & Inhaler Device Technique’ training event, led by Nepean Hospital’s Respiratory Unit. This was very well received by participating health professionals, providing information on diagnosis and management of COPD and enabling them to further support patients with their inhaler techniques. 

Next week, World COPD Day takes place on 15 November, which is another opportunity for our local practices to be visible and proactive in raising awareness amongst their patients about the symptoms, risks and treatment for COPD.

I encourage all practices to visit the Lung Foundation Australia’s website to support this important cause and register to participate in World COPD Day by creating a display in their practice and even encouraging patients to get involved in a local COPD Day walk.


[1] NBMPHN Needs Assessment 2016/2017

[2] Toelle B, Xuan W, Bird T, Abramson M, Atkinson D, Burton D, James A, Jenkins C, Johns D, Maquire G, Musk A, Walters E, Wood-Baker R, Hunter M, Graham B, Southwell P, Vollmer W, Buist A, Marks G. Respiratory symptoms and illness in older Australians: The Burden of Obstructive Lung Disease (BOLD) study. Med J Aust 2013; 198 (3): 144-148 

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Lizz Reay's avatar
Lizz Reay is the CEO of Wentworth Healthcare, provider of the Nepean Blue Mountains Primary Health Network. Previously Deputy CEO of Nepean Blue Mountains Medicare Local & Nepean Division of General Practice, she has an extensive background in public health.
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