Downham Market man with lung problem helped by new exercise and education programme in West Norfolk

More than 150 West Norfolk people suffering chronic lung disease in have been helped by a new campaign to promote exercise and understanding about the complaint.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) causes coughing, breathlessness and increased risk of chest infection.

At the end of 2010, West Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group set up a programme to help people suffering from breathlessness.

By combining exercise with educational sessions, health workers hope to help patients to manage their condition and reduce breathlessness.

It is provided by BOC Healthcare, who have worked closely with local GPs and NHS Norfolk and Waveney to develop the service.

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The team includes a physiotherapist, a COPD nurse and a technical instructor. Classes are held in leisure centres and village halls in King's Lynn, Downham Market, Swaffham and Hunstanton.

More than 150 patients have already been referred to the six-week programme and results show that their stamina as well as their quality of life has improved together with a reduction in their breathlessness.

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As one patient's wife wrote in a thank you card to the team: 'Thank you very much for the pulmonary rehabilitation work you have done with my husband. Not only has he found, after many years, that walking can be pleasant, but he coughs less and is much more cheerful.'

Sue Crossman, interim chief executive of the West Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said: 'There is evidence that an active course of pulmonary rehabilitation can have a very positive impact on levels of breathlessness and quality of life for patients with chronic respiratory disease. We are delighted that patients in West Norfolk are now benefiting from this service as part of our respiratory care strategy.'

New patients are welcome any time to the programme and 'open mornings' are organised for patients who want to know a little more before deciding to join.

Retired lorry driver Colin Brown, 64, of Downham Market, has suffered from asthma all his life and was diagnosed with COPD about a year ago.

After taking part in the pulmonary rehabilitation programme, he has been able to reduce his medication.

'I was doing the exercises from the programme on a regular basis, and I still do,' said Mr Brown.

'You have to be motivated enough to continue the exercises at home. I have an exercise bike in the garage and my daughter has a treadmill which I also use.

'I also walk into town which is a 45-minute round trip. I feel a lot better about myself.

'One of the benefits was thinking that I would be going to the programme every week. I was looking forward to it.

'I would definitely recommend it. I feel a lot better as a result.'

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