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Health Chiefs are urging people with respiratory conditions to take extra care as the cold nights draw in

Dr Stuart Berry, Local GP and respiratory lead for East Lancashire CCG is urging patients who have respiratory conditions such as COPD and asthma to have the flu jab as a first line of defence against flu:

“We continue to have high rates of respiratory illness and hospital admissions in East Lancs for a variety of reasons. As we move into the winter months we anticipate that this will add to the pressure on General Practice, A&E and the wider NHS & care system in the area.

Flu can be a major killer of vulnerable people, particularly those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma. The risks are higher for those who are older too. The best way to prevent yourself from getting flu is to have the flu jab (or nasal spray for children aged 2 to 17). The flu vaccine gives good protection against flu and lasts for one year. If you are over 65 and have COPD or asthma you will also be eligible for the pneumococcal vaccine, which provides protection against pneumonia. People with a long-term health condition may need just a single one-off pneumococcal vaccination or five-yearly vaccination, depending on their underlying health problem.

GPs in the area can refer patients with respiratory conditions to the Intensive Home Support Service (IHSS) which can help respiratory patients to be treated in the community , with additional support from the nursing team , and often avoids the need to be admitted into hospital.

The Intensive Home Support Service is able to offer urgent assessments of patients , within a guaranteed 2 hours of referral. This means that the patient and their carers receive some additional support and reassurance that their care plan is sufficient.

Intensive Home Support Service staff are able to check that the patient can use their inhalers correctly, and work with them on relaxation techniques to aid inhaler technique, if that is needed. If their condition changes then IHSS staff are able to organise a hospital admission or additional investigations or therapy. This complete package of assessment and review of the care plan hopefully has the effect of helping the patient to feel reassured that they will not be left on their own if their condition deteriorates.

This can reduce the need for them to present to Urgent Care for a second opinion , and helps the patient to be aware of what support there is in the community , in addition to their regular GP service.

Dr Berry says:

“The Intensive Home Support Service can be accessed via your GP or directly by you , the patient, if you have previously been under their care. We have created a 3 minute video which gives a good overview of the service and what it can offer. If you would like more information about this service we have created a 3 minute video that highlights a patient story and provides an overview of what the IHSS team do. The link is: https://vimeo.com/200156825."