National COPD Audit Programme results

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The National COPD Audit Programme report on COPD admissions to secondary care in England and Wales was published today on 12 February 2015, highlighting significant progress alongside key areas for improvement – as well as how Respiratory Futures could help  

The report, entitled COPD: who cares matters, details important improvements in the management of COPD exacerbations since 2008, when the previous was audit was conducted. There has been a reduction in the number of patients being treated inappropriately with high-flow oxygen at the time of admission; acute respiratory failure is being better managed; and a greater number of patients are being referred to early/supported discharge, meaning that length of stay has been reduced.

Nevertheless, the report also raises concerns relating to the variance of care for COPD patients geographically, the access to specialist respiratory care, reduced access to care at weekends, and the provision of care for patients on non-respiratory wards.

In the Executive Summary, the report states: “The picture painted by the data is very much one of high front‐end efficiency, with short hospital stays organised around a 5‐day working week. There appears to be less emphasis on whole‐case management and the important application of evidence‐based care during the hospital episode, factors that have ramifications for patient experience and longer‐term outcomes. Many patients do not receive specialist care from the multiprofessional respiratory team.”

The report makes a number of key recommendations, including:

  • increasing the respiratory bed base to reflect increases in COPD admissions
  • maximising the number of patients cared for by respiratory specialists
  • quicker reviews of exacerbating patients by respiratory specialists, including on weekends
  • improvements in weekend care
  • continued review of protocols for recording key clinical information by acute units

It continues: “While reorganisation and investment will be necessary to deliver these improvements, there has hitherto been no ‘go‐to’ resource for providers and commissioners wishing to seek advice about improving their services and to share or search for experience, learning and innovation that will help to solve some of these challenges. The launch of ‘Respiratory Futures’ is therefore welcomed as a potential platform within which to host this resource, and we commend its further development.”


The report is part of the National COPD Audit Programme, commissioned by the Healthcare Improvement Partnership. It was prepared by the Royal College of Physicians and the British Thoracic Society in partnership with the Primary Care Respiratory Society UK, the Royal College of General Practitioners and the British Lung Foundation.

Download the Executive Summary

Download the Full Report