A new collaborative project between the pharmaceutical industry and the National Health Service has been set up in Nottingham to improve care for patients with constructive obstructive pulmonary disease and, ultimately, reduce the number of unplanned admissions related to COPD to the city’s hospitals

INFORCE (Industry and Nottingham NHS Focus on Reducing COPD Exacerbations) is a collaboration between Nottingham City Primary Care Trust, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust and five pharmaceutical companies – AstraZeneca, Boehringer Ingelheim, GlaxoSmithKline, Nycomed and Pfizer - working under the auspices of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry NHS Outreach Programme.

Nottingham City is the seventh most deprived local authority area in the country, and its hospitals receive as many as 1,000 admissions each year of patients with a primary diagnosis of COPD, many of which are actually multiple admissions of the same people. There are also around 140 deaths in the city each year related to COPD, an umbrella term which covers conditions including emphysema, chronic bronchitis and chronic asthma.

The INFORCE project, which runs until December 2009, will review the treatment of people admitted to Nottingham City hospitals with a COPD diagnosis over a certain time period, in order to identify common factors which could point to areas of improvement in current treatment guidelines and service provision. It will also help people with COPD manage their conditions more effectively at home.

The initiative consists of four phases: understanding the problem – data collection and analysis (March 2007-May 2008); identifying the solutions and making recommendations (July-August 2008); implementation of recommendations and solutions (September 2008 and ongoing); and evaluation (September-December 2009).

Dr Jonathan Corne, consultant physician at Nottingham University Hospitals described the project as “an excellent scheme which cuts across organizational boundaries to provide better care for patients. I am confident the outcomes of this scheme will help us to improve care of people with COPD and reduce the number of unnecessary admissions to hospital,” he said.

“By reviewing what currently happens to patients with the condition, we can make relevant changes to further develop and improve the treatment and service we provide,” added Shirley Smith, who is assistant director of commissioning, community services at Nottingham City PCT.

This is the second collaborative project to be undertaken by the ABPI NHS Outreach Programme with Nottingham City PCT, following the Happy Hearts cardiovascular disease risk management project, which reported early success last week. And the ABPI’s regional facilitator for both projects, Jan Balmer, told PharmaTimes News Online that INFORCE “looks to be even more successful” than Happy Hearts. The industry is “delighted to once again be working in partnership with Nottingham City PCT on such an important project. We all have a shared interest in improving people’s health and reducing their need for hospital treatment,” said Ms Balmer.