How I'm supporting the NHS long-term plan
Carol, who lives with COPD, explains what she does as a patient representative for the NHS England long-term plan and how she got involved.
I had lived with asthma for most of my life before I was diagnosed with COPD in 2006. Last year, I volunteered to serve for two years on the British Lung Foundation's Patient Think Tank, which provides feedback to the BLF on its activities.
An opportunity arose
I enjoyed this experience so much that I was on the lookout for other ways to support and improve the nation's lung health. Fortunately, an email dropped into my inbox earlier this year that gave me the opportunity to do exactly that.
The BLF were looking for patient representatives to serve on the NHS England long-term plan. To my delight, my application was successful and I became a rep in the summer of 2019.
What is the long-term plan?
The NHS long-term plan was drawn up by staff, patients and national experts. It is meant to ensure that we have an NHS that is fit for the nation's changing health needs.
For the first time, respiratory disease became an official priority in NHS England's long-term plan. Respiratory disease affects one in five people in England and is estimated to cost wider society around £9.9 billion each year. It is the UK's third-biggest killer and, as mortality rates have not been declining, it is great news that respiratory disease will be included in the plan.
The plan hopes to diagnose respiratory diseases earlier, expand pulmonary rehabilitation, support the correct use of and access to medication, and provide improved out-of-hospital pneumonia care.
Why am I involved?
As a rep, I try to ensure that all discussions and activities are motivated by patients: what they need and what they value. It’s so important for patients to have a seat at the decision-making table to ensure that the people living with these diseases are considered every step of the way. I myself have COPD, but my role is to represent the views of people who are living with all types of respiratory disease.
It’s no mean feat when the range of disease areas in respiratory is so vast, but alongside my fellow NHS England patient rep, Lynn, we try our best to get all patients’ voices heard.
Thankfully, I am not shy in coming forward with my opinions!