Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust and the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) have collaborated to provide a new service.
Ambulances will now take patients experiencing exacerbations of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease symptoms directly to the COPD unit based at Wigan’s Royal Albert Edward Infirmary, rather than the Accident and Emergency Department.
The new pathway, which launched recently, has already seen four patients referred to the service, with the first made within an hour.
Patients known to the service will be assessed by the paramedic crew who will then contact the team on a dedicated phone line.
The COPD team will then triage the patient to determine if it is appropriate for them to attend the unit or if they will need to be treated in A&E.
Those who visit the unit will be assessed and, when appropriate, discharged with the team’s specialist support in place.
The new initiative comes just months after the COPD Unit at Wigan Infirmary relocated to a larger area.
Joanne Wright, Lead COPD Specialist Nurse, said: “We are very excited by this new pathway which has been created in collaboration with NWAS.
“This pathway will help to provide a better service for our patients, while also helping to relieve pressure from our urgent care system.”
The team are also hoping the pathway will inspire others with Dr Imran Aziz, Respiratory Consultant adding: “We hope that this pathway will lead to the development of similar pathways in other parts of the health service.”
John Pennington, Advanced Paramedic for North West Ambulance Service said: “We are really proud to work with our colleagues at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust and be able to offer this service to our patients.
“The COPD team offers both treatment on the day and follow up care in the community to ensure patients are well supported after discharge.
“Taking our patients to the emergency department is not always the best option and pathways like this help us to provide the most appropriate care for their health needs.”