Darren Curran

For many thousands of people living with long term conditions, the quality of care they receive from healthcare professionals can have a significant impact on not only their daily lives but also their long term prognosis.

Continuous professional training is therefore essential for healthcare professionals caring for these patients to ensure their clinical skills and knowledge are up to date as Clinical Pharmacist Darren Curran explains:

“My current role with Interface Clinical Services involves providing independent clinical support services to the NHS and part of this includes carrying out patient reviews of people with chronic long term conditions.  Recently I attended an RCGP accredited update on asthma and COPD provided by national charity Education for Health. The education lead was a practising clinician in this field and therefore was able to provide expert training that was relevant and current which resulted in immediate benefits for a cohort of COPD patients that I was reviewing.”

“I had a 67-year-old gentleman who came in to see me in the clinic. He had persistent COPD symptoms as well as a complex medical history which included a traumatic, below knee amputation which had resulted in PTSD among other pre-existing mental health conditions. He was GOLD category B, highly symptomatic (CAT score 31) and had one exacerbation in the previous 12 months. He was managed with a DPI LABA/LAMA inhaler, which had been stepped up from a LAMA DPI (in the same device) the previous year due to persistent symptoms.”

“The gentleman was feeling quite low about his COPD and didn’t want to leave his house as his chest would flare up once he got outside. When I asked him to demonstrate his inhaler to me, he had an immediate coughing spasm which he said happened each time he used it but had never been asked about it in previous respiratory reviews. One thing I had really learnt from the respiratory training was to have the mindset of ‘right device for the right patient’ and, after investigating the cause of the cough, I found it was powder deposition in his mouth and throat irritation due to poor inhaler technique.”

“It was obvious that he had not been getting much if any, medication into his lungs on a regular basis.  Using the In-Check Dial to assess the patient’s inspiratory flow, I found that a soft mist inhaler would be more suited to this patient.  The patient immediately felt very confident and positive about the change and as a consequence, his symptoms and exacerbation frequency should improve resulting in less respiratory related consultations for the practice.  Overall, respiratory training has significantly increased my knowledge and understanding and enabled me to see first-hand the difference that can be made to the patient’s lives by optimising their inhaled therapy.  As a result of ensuring patients are on the right level of therapy and by making sure they can use their inhalers correctly, practices I work with have reported examples of patients noticing a significant improvement in symptoms within just a few weeks of a COPD review.”

Mike Drakard, CEO of Interface Clinical Services, an independent provider of clinical support services to the NHS, comments:

“We regularly review thousands of patients with long term conditions and this sort of example shows how critical ongoing training is to pharmacists.  Working alongside national charity Education for Health has been extremely beneficial for both our pharmacists and their patients as they often work with us to tailor courses to meet our exact needs.  Because of this, we have already committed to further training in 2019 with Education for Health in the management of heart failure, asthma and COPD.”

Education for Health’s education lead on respiratory training, Beverly Bostock, comments:

“We are a national charity providing training on long term conditions such as diabetes, COPD and heart failure.  Utilising an academic team who are still practising clinicians and experts in their own particular fields, ensures that we can deliver the most relevant and up to date training incorporating national guidelines.  Our vision is for a world where everyone living with a long term condition receives high-quality care and can manage their condition to the best of their ability. We firmly believe that the way to achieve this is through a well informed and well-educated workforce and are delighted that Interface Clinical Services have shown their commitment to this by commissioning training from us for their staff.”

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