Caring for older people Homepage Supporting families

Liz visits service helping patients with breathing problems


I recently visited the Whittington Hospital in London to see the brilliant work they are doing to improve care for patients with respiratory problems like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).


COPD causes frightening breathlessness and disability, and smoking is its biggest cause. So an essential part of the hospital’s work is helping patients stop smoking. Their ‘Quit at the Whit’ programme is very successful because staff address patients’ mental health problems, like depression and stress, and work closely with families and friends, because if the people patients spend most time with also smoke it can be tough for them to give up for good. The team also provides help and advice on the best diet and exercise, and support from social workers and home adaptations when the patient goes back home.

The Whittington Respiratory team is making big improvements for sick smokers and saving money by preventing future emergency admissions.  I think this kind of ‘integrated care’ – which addresses people’s physical, mental and social care needs together – is really important and something we need to see more of across the country.