Respiratory viruses during winter can strain the NHS with an influx of patients, as well as more staff illness. In most cases, rest, increased fluid intake, and paracetamol are sufficient. However, winter can be much more serious for people with pre-existing conditions, such as COPD. Total excess winter mortality is between 20,000 and 50,000 annually in England and Wales, principally from respiratory, cardiovascular or cerebrovascular diseases. Older age, female gender and a history of respiratory disease confer greater vulnerability.
Optimising management of chronic conditions is a process, not an event, and clinicians can be supported in this by using the Map of Medicine. The following care maps are accredited by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) and offer evidence-based, practice-informed guidance for the on-going management of chronic conditions:
- ‘Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)’ – covers management in both primary and secondary care, and includes treatment of acute exacerbations of breathlessness, which can occur in response to viral infection
- ‘Cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk management’ – gives information on primary and secondary prevention of cardiac disease
- ‘Stroke and transient ischaemic attack (TIA)’ – includes information on the secondary prevention of cerebrovascular events
The Map and the RCP bring together evidence and practice to support clinical decisions at the point of care. The Map can be customised to reflect local needs by clinicians looking to support clinical decision-making. Over 150 organisations have ‘localised’ more than 1,300 care pathways. Local additions to the care maps for these chronic conditions range from signposting services, for example local telehealth initiatives and social care packages, to providing information on topics such as factors to consider when deciding where exacerbations of COPD should be managed, and which teams are responsible for delivering care.
Click here to see how the Map could help your organisation.