Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an umbrella term that encompasses conditions which cause irreversible narrowing of the airways (emphysema, chronic bronchitis, some chronic asthma).

A feature of the condition is frequent ‘flare-ups’ or exacerbations which may result in hospital admissions. There is very good evidence that some of these exacerbations can be managed safely at home with specialist nursing support which reduces the length of time patients need to stay in hospital. Patients are able to recover in their own environment where they are more likely to sleep better, remain more mobile and as independent as possible.

At NNUH, the early supported discharge service was set up in early 2005. The team is led by Respiratory Nurse Specialist Paula Browne. Patients admitted with an exacerbation of their COPD are assessed by the medical and nursing teams for suitability for the scheme. Provided there are no complications which require more frequent observation in hospital, early discharge home is offered and follow-up provided by the specialist respiratory nurses. We aim to discharge within 48 hours if condition is stable and patients are contacted daily (except Sundays) and visited at home as necessary. At these visits clinical signs and symptoms are checked to ensure patients are improving and changes to treatment considered if needed. The nurses have all had specialist training in the management of COPD and are able to spend time at home visits addressing commonly encountered problems such as symptom management, planning and pacing activity and stopping smoking.

If early supported discharge is not appropriate, the respiratory nurses may still be able to offer advice and support whilst patients are in hospital.

Hours of service

Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm
Saturday 9am to 12pm (for follow up visits only)


Respiratory Nursing Service 01603 289654 (x5654) or bleep 0090