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Trust experts visit Iran and Russia to share expertise

23 March 2016

Experts from the respiratory division at Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust have recently collaborated with international clinical teams in Iran and Russia to share knowledge and improve health outcomes for patients in the regions.

Nick Hopkinson in Tehran
Dr Hopkinson (left) visiting a rehabilitation centre in the north of Tehran


In February, Dr Nicholas Hopkinson, honorary consultant chest physician at the Trust, was invited to Tehran as part of a project to improve the health of people with lung diseases that were caused by exposure to chemical weapons, such as mustard gas, in the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s.


The initiative was organised jointly by the Iranian Health Ministry and some of the country’s clinical experts. Dr Hopkinson was asked to share his expertise in pulmonary rehabilitation so that a similar programme might be developed in Iran.


Dr Hopkinson said: “There are thousands of people in Iran living with the consequences of chemical weapons, many of whom are extremely affected by breathlessness. Developing a pulmonary rehabilitation service should make a major contribution to improving the quality of life of this group of patients.”


Pulmonary rehabilitation is an exercise and educational programme designed to help patients with limiting symptoms caused by respiratory conditions such as chronic obstructing pulmonary disease (COPD). The aim of pulmonary rehabilitation is to improve patients’ exercise tolerance and functional independence.


The Trust runs specialist pulmonary rehabilitation programmes at Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals and both sites have physiotherapy gyms.


The multi-disciplinary clinics are jointly run by:


  • physiotherapists
  • respiratory consultants
  • occupational therapists
  • dietitians
  • health psychologists
  • clinical nurse specialists
  • therapy assistants.


Patients receive individualised exercise programmes suitable for their level of fitness. Harefield Hospital hosts the largest single-site pulmonary rehabilitation programme in the UK with more than 800 referrals per year.


Also in February, Dr Siobhán Carr, consultant in paediatric respiratory medicine at the Trust, led a joint adult/paediatric multidisciplinary team (specialist physiotherapist, specialist dietitian and consultant nurse) to Moscow to run a two-day conference on cystic fibrosis (CF).


CF team visit Moscow
Dr Siobhán Carr and colleagues in Moscow

The team were invited by the Russian Ministry of Health, the Head of the Russian Cystic Fibrosis Centre, and the Head of The All Russian Association for Patients with Cystic Fibrosis, the visit was financially supported by Child Health International.


The team presented lectures and workshops on the diagnosis, treatment options, complications and on-going care for patients of all ages with CF.


Dr Carr said: “This trip was a wonderful opportunity for us to share our expertise in order to help patients with CF in Russia; it was so successful that we have been asked to return next year. We are also working with the Russian team to offer clinical fellowships for members of CF MDTs across Russia to spend time at the Royal Brompton.”


Royal Brompton Hospital has the largest centre for CF in Europe, caring for over 600 adults and over 350 children.


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