NICE publishes new quality standard on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

NICE has today (29 July) published a new quality standard for chronic obstructive pulmonary diseasei (COPD).

NICE quality standards apply nationally across England, and aim to define what quality care is by providing patients, carers and the public, health and social care professionals, commissioners and service providers with clear, easy to understand definitions of high-quality health and social care. Developed from the best available evidence, (usually NICE guidance or NHS Evidence-accredited sources), this new quality standard add to the library of standards already published.

NICE quality standards play a pivotal role in the NHS Outcomes Framework, an overview of aims and objectives in improving patient outcomes in the NHS. The NICE quality standard on COPD complements the new Outcomes Strategy for COPD and Asthma, developed to improve outcomes for patients through the new REACTii approach, which coordinates the efforts of the NHS, patients, social care and voluntary organisations.

COPD develops because of long-term damage to the lungs from breathing in a harmful substance such as cigarette smoke. Around 835,000 people in the UK have been diagnosed with COPD, but it is thought that there are about 2 million people living with the disease who have not been diagnosed. Symptoms include shortness of breath, having a cough that lasts a long time, often coughing up phlegm or catarrh or a lot of coughing, breathlessness or wheezing during cold weatheriii.

The quality standard on COPD includes 13 statements that aim to define high quality care for patients. These include that people with COPD should have a current individualised comprehensive management plan, which includes high-quality information and educational material about the condition and its management, relevant to the stage of disease. It also states that people with COPD who smoke are regularly encouraged to stop and are offered the full range of evidence-based smoking cessation support. In addition the standard states that people with advanced COPD, and their carers, are identified and offered palliative care that addresses their physical, social and emotional needs.

Christine Carson, Programme Director, Centre for Clinical Practice at NICE, said: "COPD is a serious, harmful condition that has a very significant impact on everyday life. We are, therefore, very pleased to be publishing this quality standard, adding to the bank of standards already available, which we hope will play an important role in improving patient care and outcomes. The NICE quality standard on COPD is an important addition to the recently published Outcomes Strategy for COPD and Asthma."

Dr Iain Small, Executive Committee Chair, Primary Care Respiratory Society UK (PCRS-UK), said: "The Primary Care Respiratory Society welcomes the publication of this new quality standard. COPD can be a very distressing condition, so this standard is important for both patients to understand what level of care they can expect to receive, and healthcare professionals to help them deliver the best quality treatment. It will also be useful for clinical commissioning groups as a guide for specifying the standard of services they commission from providers."

The new quality standard will be available on the NICE website from Friday 29 July at:


Notes to Editors

1. The quality standard on COPD is derived from:

2. The Outcomes Strategy for COPD and Asthma can be found at

3. The NHS Outcomes Framework can be found at:

4. There is more information on NICE quality standards at:


i. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the name for a collection of lung diseases including chronic bronchitis, emphysema and chronic obstructive airways disease.

ii. The REACT approach signifies:

  • Respiratory health and good lung health;
  • Early accurate diagnosis;
  • Active partnership between healthcare professionals and people with COPD/asthma;
  • Chronic disease management (and good control of symptoms); and
  • Targeted evidence-based treatment for the individual.

iii. NHS Choices.

About NICE

1. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is the independent organisation responsible for providing national guidance and standards on the promotion of good health and the prevention and treatment of ill health.

2. NICE produces guidance in three areas of health:

  • public health - guidance on the promotion of good health and the prevention of ill health for those working in the NHS, local authorities and the wider public and voluntary sector
  • health technologies - guidance on the use of new and existing medicines, treatments, medical technologies (including devices and diagnostics) and procedures within the NHS
  • clinical practice - guidance on the appropriate treatment and care of people with specific diseases and conditions within the NHS.

3. NICE produces standards for patient care:

  • quality standards - these reflect the very best in high quality patient care, to help healthcare practitioners and commissioners of care deliver excellent services
  • Quality and Outcomes Framework - NICE develops the clinical and health improvement indicators in the QOF, the Department of Health scheme which rewards GPs for how well they care for patients.

4. NICE provides advice and support on putting NICE guidance and standards into practice throughits implementation programme, and it collates and accredits high quality health guidance, research and information to help health professionals deliver the best patient care through NHS Evidence.

This page was last updated: 29 July 2011

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Selected, reliable information for health and social care in one place

Accessibility | Cymraeg | Freedom of information | Vision Impaired | Contact Us | Glossary | Data protection | Copyright | Disclaimer | Terms and conditions

Copyright 2014 National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. All rights reserved.