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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 November, 2004, 09:20 GMT
Lung treatment shortage warning
X-ray
People with COPD have permanently damaged lungs
A leading Welsh expert in respiratory diseases says some patients are having to travel too far due to a shortage of local rehabilitation services.

Dr Tim Griffiths, based at Llandough Hospital near Cardiff, is calling for more facilities in Wales.

His call comes as a world awareness day is held to highlight conditions such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

The Welsh assembly government said a respiratory action plan for Wales was currently being developed.

Wednesday has been named as the world day for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), which is an overall term covering several lung diseases.

People with COPD have permanently damaged lungs, usually through smoking, and find it difficult to breathe most of the time.

Dr Griffiths carries out international research and runs a rehabilitation clinic for patients in Cardiff.

"There are parts of Wales where facilities for patients with COPD are actually improving greatly," he said.

"The problem is this isn't uniform throughout the country and there are areas where there isn't access to facilities such as rehabilitation, which we now know is extremely good at helping people to lead much more fulfilling lives.

"This unfortunately is only available in about half the hospitals in Wales."

Dr Griffiths added some patients were currently travelling long distances for appointments which help teach patients how to manage their condition better, improve fitness levels and quality of life.

Smoking

An assembly government spokesperson said Wales was leading the way in the UK in developing a respiratory policy and action plan.

The assembly has also established a planning and implementation group focusing on a wide range of issues addressing primary and secondary care and rehabilitation.

Six sub-groups have been established, one of which will look specifically at COPD. This policy is due to be consulted on in late spring.

Smoking is said to be responsible for more than 95% of cases of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

It is a common disorder in which lung damage over a long period of time impairs the flow of air in and out of the lungs and causes breathlessness.

On Tuesday, Assembly Health Minister Jane Hutt said restrictions on smoking in public places in Wales may go further than those planned in England.




SEE ALSO:
Hutt announces 30m NHS spend
15 Nov 04 |  Wales
Q&A: Smoking ban
16 Nov 04 |  Medical notes


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