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by Staff Reporter
15 November 2023
Associate Feature: Continuing the important journey of improving outcomes for people with COPD in Scotland

For illustration purposes only

Partner content

Associate Feature: Continuing the important journey of improving outcomes for people with COPD in Scotland

This article is commissioned and paid for by AstraZeneca

The burden of COPD in Scotland
Around 125,000 people in Scotland live with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and a further 250,000 may be undiagnosed.1 This common disease is characterised by chronic inflammation of, and limited airflow to, the lungs, and is most commonly associated with smoking, although can occur in those who have never smoked.1 Despite the condition being preventable and treatable, it is not-reversible and is serious. In 2019-21 alone, COPD caused over 2,600 deaths in Scotland,2 and the disease often co-occurs with other long-term conditions like cardiovascular disease (CVD) and diabetes.1 

It is a condition that has links to deprivation and health inequalities. A stark illustration of this is in COPD-related hospitalisation and death rates – they are both twice as high in Glasgow City as East Dunbartonshire.2 And for prevalence, rates are four times higher in the most deprived areas of Scotland compared to the least deprived.1

This has an impact on the NHS. COPD is the second most common cause for emergency admissions to Scottish hospitals, and overall costs are projected at £207m in 2030 (representing about a £48m increase from 2011).1

The respiratory community mobilised
To date, lots of good work has been done, driven by the energy and passion of dedicated health and social care professionals across the country.1

At a policy level, the Respiratory Care Action Plan (RCAP) was published in 2021.1 This progressive strategy aims to deliver improvements in the prevention, diagnosis, care, treatment and support for five major respiratory conditions, including COPD.1 

Members of the respiratory community have been mobilised through the ACT on COPD* National Working Group, a consortium of healthcare professionals, patient advocates and organisational leaders from across Scotland, convened by AstraZeneca, with the clear purpose of sharing expertise and ideas to shape policy and practice change in COPD.1

Inspiring change in COPD 
Aligned to the ambitions of the RCAP, the Group has just launched the ACT on COPD Scotland Pathway Best Practice Report, which outlines how NHS services for people with COPD can be optimised. Showcasing examples and ideas of best practice delivered by dedicated members of health and social care teams, the hope is to inspire others as we move forward together to improve outcomes.

Delivering the Respiratory Care Action Plan is a vital step forward in ensuring people with lung conditions in Scotland can lead as healthy and productive a life as they can. COPD poses a significant burden and unmet medical need to both the people and the NHS in Scotland. We were pleased to read the report produced by the ACT on COPD Scotland National Working Group illustrating real, tangible and practical examples of best practice that supports the implementation of the COPD section of the RCAP

Emma Harper MSP, Alexander Stewart MSP – Co-convenors, Cross-Party Group for Lung Health

On 15th November – World COPD Day – we invite readers to accelerate change, in policy and practice, for people with COPD in Scotland by:
• Reading the Best Practice Report
• Exploring with local health services how the Report’s recommendations can be delivered 
• Engaging with Government and civil service to ensure the ambitions laid out in the RCAP become reality 

This article is commissioned and paid for by AstraZeneca
*Accelerate Change Together (ACT) on COPD is an initiative developed and funded by AstraZeneca around the vision to drive early, proactive, biology-led prevention of disease progression and mortality in COPD.

1. AstraZeneca. ACT on COPD Scotland Pathway Best Practice Report (2023). Available:
(Accessed October 2023)
2. Public Health Scotland. ScotPHO Profiles. Available:
(Accessed October 2023)

Document number: GB-46967. Date of preparation: November 2023

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