Lung & Sleep Health
A Proposal to the Northern Territory Government and the Commonwealth, May 2008
COPD is a major contributor to respiratory chronic non-communicable disease morbidity, primary and hospital healthcare utilisation and premature mortality in the NT. This chronic condition carries significant cost in the Northern Territory and is putting pressure on hospital beds and emergency departments.
In 2001/02, the rate of avoidable hospital admissions for COPD in the Northern Territory was the highest in all of Australia – 751.4 per 100,000 (NT) as compared to the Australian average of 282 avoidable admissions per 100,000.
Respiratory illness, including COPD, has a particular impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. In 2003/04 diseases of the respiratory system accounted for 63.5 Indigenous Australian separations per 1,000 people, as compared to 16.0 per 1,000 for non-indigenous Australians.
Similarly, other common respiratory diseases contribute significantly to the huge total burden of lung disease in the NT.
The current respiratory service in the NT — consisting of two clinical nurse consultants (one in Darwin and one in Alice Springs), infrequent respiratory and sleep clinics and a small number of sleep studies provided by visiting respiratory physicians from Qld and SA – is seriously inadequate and unsustainable and falls far short of both national and international best practice standards in respiratory care.
In November 2007, The Australian Lung Foundation developed a proposal for a comprehensive respiratory service based in Darwin and serving the whole of the NT. The Australian Lung Foundation continues to advocate at both a local and federal level for the adoption of a full respiratory service for the people of the Northern Territory.
Northern Centre for Respiratory Health. Full report