Innovations to improve care for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Long term conditions affect over 15 million people in England and account for 70% of health and social care spending. Interventions to improve quality of life in patients with long term conditions often focus on improving primary care to reduce hospital use. However, evidence is equivocal on whether improving primary care management of long term conditions does reduce hospital use and costs.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is one of the most common long term conditions. The COPD ‘Year in the Life’ project launched in 2011 to improve the quality of care of COPD patients across four Primary Care Trusts (now CCGs). This project developed and evaluated a series of interventions implementing National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) COPD guidelines. A preliminary evaluation suggested that COPD management improved and costs per patient fell, but the longer term impact of the interventions are less clear.

This study evaluated the sustainability and long term impacts of the interventions on COPD management and on primary and secondary care use and costs, and the factors that influenced them. The project used mixed quantitative and qualitative methods to investigate the impacts in 189 general practices and how projects such as this can influence what happens in general practice.

A protocol giving more detail of our research methods is available here: COPD protocol – summary – Nov 2014

For more information please contact: Dr Jessica Sheringham:


Principal investigator: Dr Jessica Sheringham, UCL

Start date and duration: January 2014, twelve months

Partners and collaborators involved: UCL; Barking & Dagenham, Havering & Redbridge Clinical Commissioning Group cluster; Waltham Forest Clinical Commissioning Group, Nuffield Trust, Barking & Dagenham and Havering Breathe Easy Groups.


Patient Experience and Priorities
As part of our engagement with patients the project’s Senior Research Associate and Research Associate visited Havering Breathe Easy Group in August 2014. Read about the meeting here: Havering Breathe Easy Meeting

Quality in Primary Care Workshop
We held a workshop in January 2015 to share findings and discuss how we can best use the learning from this project and others to improve the quality of primary care to benefit patients. Read our Improving quality in primary care – workshop summary which outlines key learning points from the day on delivering and evaluating quality improvement in primary care. The document draws on observations and suggestions from workshop participants and learning from our researchers evaluation of a quality improvement programme.