Wiganer Carol’s experience is a lesson for medics
A Wiganer’s account of receiving treatment for a chronic lung condition has been published by a prestigious health journal.
Carol Liddle, from Spring View, was asked to review an academic paper about chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) which she was diagnosed with five years ago by the British Medical Journal (BMJ).
And her forthright account of some of the shortcomings patients face within the NHS is now available to read online.
Carol, who also founded the Wigan Warblers singing group to help people with lung and breathing conditions, was approached by the respected journal after attending a Westminster event about the NHS.
She says the most important point in her response to the academic researchers was that health professionals need to focus on treating patients as individual people rather than just trying to and tackle a medical condition.
She said: “It’s not every day an ordinary Wiganer has an article published in the British Medical Journal.
“I do a bit of work on advocacy and representation for the British Lung Foundation and I went to Westminster for an event looking at patient outcomes and things to do with the NHS’ five-year plan.
“I went as an expert with experience and got chatting to some of the other delegates. I was talking to one of the part-time editors for the journal and she got back to me a couple of days later inviting me to write something.
“I struggled a bit at first but then the opportunity came up for me to comment on this research paper. It’s amazing to see it published. I’ve had incredible feedback from other patients and people in the respiratory world such as physios and specialists.”
Carol’s comments reveal some of the gaps in the NHS system, speaking of how different teams of health professionals often do not communicate with each other and how full assessments are a “postcode lottery”.
She also speaks of the importance of regular exercise to help people living with COPD and while agreeing with the researchers that this can be difficult to measure says it is important that ways are found to do this more effectively.
She argues pulmonary rehab courses should be offered to all patients as part of the diagnosis journey and this would give medics a baseline physical capability level to work from.
Carol also calls for clinicians to consider patients’ mental wellbeing and look at their lifestyles and skills for managing the condition.
She was comparatively young when she was diagnosed with COPD in her mid-50s but she said she knew she had it for some time before that as lung conditions run in her family.
She said: “If we had a measure of where we are starting out it would allow us to manage the condition better. It’s all about being able to breath more effectively so you are not frightened to push yourself more.
“I was really lucky to be diagnosed in Wigan. The respiratory nurse at my doctors’ surgery put me forward for a course straight away so I had been on it within six weeks of diagnosis. That really was invaluable. The team in Wigan running it is excellent. The last thing you can do with a lung condition is nothing. You need to keep moving and keep active.”
To read Carol’s piece visit blogs.bmj.com