a map of the United Kingdom, with Wales highlighted with a circle showing a healthcare symbol and a pair of lungs

Living With COPD in the United Kingdom

I wanted to share with you what its like living with COPD in the UK. I am in South Wales and am very lucky with our National Health Service (NHS).

One of the luckiest countries

From what I have read and understand of different countries, we're one of the luckiest around (up until now any way, as things are starting to change and not for the best). With the NHS, our hospital treatment is usually free. Wales and England are both in the UK - the only thing dividing us is a bridge. Some treatments you can get in England on the NHS but not in Wales and vice versa.

My treatment for COPD is free

Where I live in South Wales, my treatment for COPD is free. I am unable to work and I don't pay for my prescriptions, pumps, antibiotics, and steroids. I could also get free oxygen or a nebulizer at home if need be. In England you do pay per item and can purchase a 6 month or yearly supply which is cheaper than paying by the month.

COPD team

Where I am in South Wales I'm lucky enough to have a COPD team at the hospital that will come to your home after you are discharged. Depending on your needs, the team could include a dietician, physiotherapist, or a nurse. These professionals will liaise with your doctor and keep them abreast of your state. They will also visit your home if you have a chest infection or another potentially related condition.

Adjusting to your new life

This program was started to help treat patients at home instead of being admitted to the hospital. This freed up beds for those more seriously ill. Plus, it's nice to be treated at home instead of at a hospital. I suppose in many ways things are a lot easier here, as we don't have the worry of having to pay for our medical treatments and medications.

We can also apply for grants to help have things changed around the home (if on low incomes). Furniture raises, walking aids, wheelchairs, perching stools, and back raises for the bed, etc. are also available to help you readjust to your new life at home.

I thank my blessings

I thank my blessings for our NHS and for the help that I get. I am lucky and have learned not to take things for granted. Since I started interacting with this community I have read how people cannot get the right medication when the insurance company will not cover it. That us a frightening situation to be in. I can only imagine and am grateful for the care I have here in the U.K.

Recently I was in a situation where there was been a problem getting a certain medication due to a manufacturer problem. This was frustrating and difficult to navigate, but compared to COPD patients in other countries it was a small blip. I just wanted to share a little bit about how a different country works regarding the treatment of COPD.

Editor's Note: We are heartbroken to share that Debz passed away in October of 2021. She is deeply missed but her positivity and resilience live on through her articles. Thank you for everything, Debz.

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