£750k funding brings hope to COPD patients

A cutting-edge project that made huge difference to life of a Milngavie man has been awarded a £750,000 funding trial to bring benefits to thousands of patients with the chronic lung condition COPD.

72-year old Ken Rutherford from Milngavie slept in a chair for two years as he couldn’t breathe when he lay down until a new NHS treatment plan gave him his life back.

Ken, who has suffered from COPD for seven years, was able to get back in his bed and began sleeping well thanks to the treatment plan which sees medics monitor his breathing remotely.

Ken’s treatment involves wearing a mask, with a small machine which senses breathing in and out, and blows air at a varying intensity to increase the capacity of the patient’s breathing.

The new technology allowed Ken to have his ventilation monitored remotely, with medics at the hospital able to review the readings from the machine and changing the machine settings via an online portal.

Now, under the new £750,000 trial, more patients like Ken are set to benefit from this technology.

With COPD affecting 1.2 million people in the UK, exacerbations of COPD are the second most common cause of emergency hospital admissions and account for in eight of all UK hospital admissions.

The World Health Organisation forecasts that COPD will become the third leading cause of death worldwide by 2030.

Chris Carlin, Consultant Respiratory Physician, NHSGGC said: “This funding award from Innovate UK is a very welcome recognition of the capabilities of the team in NHSGGC, the talents of our consortium partners and the positive results from the pilot work that we’ve undertaken.

“COPD is one of our biggest global health challenges. We’re excited by the opportunity to deliver our vision is for a digital infrastructure and suite of innovations which will enable early detection of potential COPD deteriorations in our highest risk patients.”

The project will seek to reduce emergency hospital admissions among the highest risk COPD patients through remote monitoring and Artificial Intelligence-enabled preventative interventions.

Using the latest technology the project aims to prevent at least one emergency hospital admission per year for each patient using the service. The benefit to patients is that they can remain at home.

Ken said: “I am so glad I met Dr Carlin and started on the trial. Doctors and nurses at Gartnavel now monitor my sleeping and breathing at any time but don’t do it all the time. Once I decided to have a nap in the afternoon and they call up the house to check why it was in use. It’s nice to know they are keeping an eye on me!

“I think this technology could change things dramatically for appropriate patients. I hear the equipment is cheaper for the NHS than a night in hospital so it makes sense financially too. It might not be needed for everyone but it’s made the world of difference for me. I’m in hospital a lot less now and have much more energy.”