Merton Council has joined forces with local GPs, Merton Clinical Commissioning Group and community groups in the east of the borough to launch a new joint effort between the Council, GPs and community groups to improve smoking cessation and early detection of poor lung health in residents.
Trained health champions will screen members of the public within their local community for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a condition caused predominately by smoking. Symptoms include frequent chest infections and frequently running out of breath.
The pilot is being rolled out across the east of the borough for six months. As well as community-based health champions, GPs will also be part of the pilot and will proactively carry out the same assessment on patients at their surgery who are known smokers,
A special launch event took place at Cricket Green Medical Practice last week (27 August) to mark the launch of the pilot with health champions receiving certificates for completing their training. Merton’s cabinet member for adult social care and health, Councillor Caroline Cooper Marbiah, the council’s director of public health, Dr Kay Eilbert and Dr Simon Gilbert, Clinical Director NHS Merton CCG were in attendance.
Merton’s cabinet member for adult social care and health, Councillor Caroline Cooper Marbiah, said: “Our Proactive GP pilot is part of our drive to make Merton a healthier place to live as well as reducing the health inequality gap between the east and west of the borough. I’d like to thank our health champions for their role in the community and look forward to them using their knowledge to help people in their community.”
Merton Council’s director of public health, Dr Kay Eilbert, said: “We are pleased to be working with local GPs and our health champions to reduce the number of people suffering from smoking related illness. Smoking is one of the main causes of health issues particularly in the east of the borough, which is why our pilot will start here. Anyone who wants to give up smoking should call LiveWell. They offer a range of helpful services to help kick the habit.”
Dr Simon Gilbert, Merton CCG Director for Keeping Healthy and Well said: “We hope that by using a screening questionnaire, given out by Community Health Champions and GP Receptionists, we can identify those smokers or ex-smokers over the age of 35 who might have early chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The best treatment for COPD is to stop smoking, and the best time to do that is before the symptoms of cough, sputum and breathlessness are impacting on your life. I would urge anyone who wants help stopping smoking to contact their GP practice, pharmacist or Merton LiveWell on 020 82510 606.”