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GPs to screen for COPD

GPs are to be asked to screen high-risk groups for COPD as part of the upcoming national service framework on the disease, a leading Department of Health adviser has revealed.

Dr Mike Morgan, vice-president of the British Lung Foundation and a member of the NSF committee, told Pulse a ‘pre-emptive strategy' was needed to ensure patients with COPD were identified at an earlier stage.

His comments came as the foundation released a report calling for spirometry testing for all people aged 35 or over at risk of COPD, to find the ‘missing millions' who remained undiagnosed. The report, Invisible Lives, identified COPD hotspots clustered in deprived urban areas.

Dr Morgan, respiratory consultant at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester, said spirometry testing in the community was ‘dead simple' and that the quality and outcomes framework had provided GPs with the incentives to carry it out.

He added: ‘There are themes that will come through in the NSF, regarding case finding before the lung damage is so great that people end up in hospital.'

But Dr John Haughney, a GP in East Kilbride and member of the General Practice Airways Group, said screening over-35s would be a ‘huge logistical exercise'. He suggested a more realistic way of identifying patients would be to send out a pre-screening questionnaire and select those needing spirometry testing.

‘You're talking about screening millions – realistically are you going to get the response rate for that kind of input?'


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