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Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust (MTW) hosted a very unique Respiratory Awareness day for patients with lung conditions on Saturday 17 October 2015, which was attended by more than 150 people.

The event, which was held at the Academic Centre at MaidstoneHospital, was organised by Consultant Respiratory Physician, Dr Syed Arshad Husain, with the help of the local Research Unit from the hospital. It was opened by the Deputy Mayor of Maidstone, Cllr Derek Butler.

The Deputy Mayor delivered a very poignant speech during which he cited anecdotes from a personal perspective, when lung diseases were rampant, in his younger days and especially in London.
Chief Executive of MTW, Glenn Douglas, and MTW Medical Director, Dr Paul Sigston also attended the awareness day. The co-ordination of the event was organised by Najma Amir.
Dr. Husain opened the session with a presentation on the demographics and distribution of lung-diseases in Kent, comparing it with overall UK statistics.

Dr. Husain, who is the lead-interventional bronchoscopy consultant at MTW, also gave a presentation outlining the recently established EBUS services, where diagnosis of lung-cancers can be carried out at MaidstoneHospital, negating the need for patients all over Kent to travel to tertiary referral centres in London, as they have had to do previously.

The establishment of EBUS services locally also means that cancer diagnoses and the initiation of chemotherapeutic treatment can be implemented swiftly, increasing the likelihood of a good prognostic outcome for patients and overall increase of survival rates for lung cancer patients in Kent.

Dr Husain said: “We held this event, primarily with the aim of educating patients on various lung diseases and the management of chronic respiratory conditions. We hope this means those individuals will the pass on their knowledge to others and that this will gradually create a larger number of people in the area who are mindful and aware of the disease process. Eventually, this better understanding could lead to patients better managing their own conditions, seeking help sooner and in turn reducing the number of acute hospital admission in the long run.”

During the day, Ricky Bishop, a former community physiotherapist, and an active Breathe Easy group member, demonstrated to the audience the best inhaler techniques and also breathing control exercises for patients dealing with an acute event.

The audience also heard from Patient Research Ambassador for MTW, Frances Mossie, who spoke about her role and how she acts as a conduit between patients and clinicians, facilitating research and inclusion into clinical trials at Maidstone. Research and Development Manager, Hazel Everest, presented an overview of all the research activities ongoing at MTW, and Research Associate, Leon D’Cruz, demonstrated the ‘Laser Trial’ and the ‘TLA device’.

The audience heard directly from patients about their diseases and Dr Pradeep Rajogopalan, Consultant Respiratory Physician from Tunbridge Wells Hospital, talked about condition management in COPD patients as well as facilitating discussions around care for various types of chronically unwell patients with lung-diseases.

The hazards of smoking were discussed as part of the day and smoking cessation strategies were presented to those in attendance.

Two local airways disease user support groups, Breathe Easy and Lung Awareness, were present during the day and put up dedicated stalls at the event to speak to patients and offer support to those with chronic respiratory diseases in the area.

Dr Husain added: “The patient feedback regarding the event has been excellent and we have been asked to organise similar events again in the future. We definitely plan to do that and we will inform our patients of future events and such activities, designed to help patient care and condition management.

“For this event, we were very fortunate to have the support of our local branch of Tesco who very kindly provided lunch and snacks, and to Waitrose and Morrison’s who provided refreshments, biscuits, cakes and disposable cutlery for the event. Thank you to all those who helped make the day such a success.”