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Exeter support group raise awareness of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis



Staff and patients at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital have been showing their support for IPF Week 2015 (5th – 11th October) – a national campaign run by the British Lung Foundation (BLF) to raise awareness of a lung condition called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).

IPF, a type of Interstitial Lung disease (ILD), is a condition that causes scarring of the lungs.  This build-up of scar tissue makes lungs stiff and less able to take in oxygen, so people with IPF often feel breathless from simple everyday activities. It has no known cause or cure and the number of people affected by it is rising every year.

This year’s IPF Week theme is #ICareAboutIPF, and calls on people to show they care by getting involved in raising awareness about the condition.

The Exeter Pulmonary Fibrosis Group meet regularly at the RD&E to provide emotional and social support for IPF patients and their families.  The group is facilitated by Respiratory Consultant Dr Michael Gibbons and Respiratory Nurse Specialist/British Lung Foundation Nurse Sarah Lines. During their October meeting they enjoyed a talk by Devon singing teacher Sandra Smith on the benefits of singing for respiratory problems and they also blew soap bubbles in support of the BLF’s campaign.

The group are joining many others around the country in calling for more research and support for IPF patients and their families, and showing how they care about IPF. Activities include sharing stories and photos on social media, holding awareness stands, and taking part in fundraising challenges. Anyone can get involved by following the week on Twitter with the hashtag #ICareAboutIPF, or texting ‘IPF’ to 70500 to donate £5 to help the BLF fight the growing impact of IPF on the UK’s health.

Ruth Sabella, British Lung Foundation’s IPF Manager, said: “As rates of IPF continue to rise, we need to see significant improvements in service provision and research into the disease. With the help groups like the South West ILD support group, the BLF is determined to raise awareness of these important issues to ensure that people affected by IPF get the help and support they need.”

Respiratory Nurse Specialist/British Lung Foundation Nurse Sarah Lines added:  

“IPF now kills over 5,000 people a year, which is more than leukaemia. However, awareness remains low. It’s important that IPF is diagnosed as early as possible to give patients the best chance with future treatment, so raising awareness of the condition is essential.”

Sarah is part of a national ILD Nurse group which formally launched its steering group, the ILD-Interdisciplinary Nurse Network (ILD-INN), during IPF week. The group aims to support, educate and influence ILD care and to involve any health care professionals who would like to join.


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