The Scottish Government has been urged to ensure those with respiratory diseases receive treatment over the winter months.
Chest, Heart and Stroke (CHS) Scotland has said they are in need of funding to expand the Hospital to Home programme designed to support those with respiratory diseases – including 140,000 people in Scotland with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) – during the coronavirus pandemic.
Working with four health boards across the country along with volunteers, the charity helps to deliver the project to those diagnosed with Covid-19 or respiratory disease sufferers at risk of contracting the virus to relieve some of the burden on the NHS.
The service, which is in operation in the Ayrshire and Arran, Highland, Lothian and Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board areas, provides advice and support as well as help with physical activities and rehab and access to a virtual peer support group.
Jane-Claire Judson, the chief executive of Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland, called for funding to be provided by the Scottish Government for the service.
Ms Judson also expressed her disappointment that the organisation was not part of the Winter Preparedness Plan published at the end of last month.
She said: “Until this service is available across the whole of Scotland, not only are people with COPD missing out on the best chance of living well, but opportunities are being missed to alleviate the burden on the NHS at this critical time.
“We are working directly in partnership with Health Boards to provide a Hospital to Home service that helps alleviate demand, freeing up health experts to focus on more acute cases. We need to make sure that this is available everywhere, not just for the lucky few.
“This is a missed opportunity that could save lives. It’s hugely disappointing that the Scottish Government has overlooked partners such as ourselves in their Winter Preparedness Plan.
“As Covid-19 has shown us all, charities are not just ‘nice to have’ – we are essential to people’s health and lives.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Our overriding priority as we head into winter is keeping people safe, including in their own home as well as in health care settings.
“The NHS remains open with public health measures in place to protect staff and patients.
“We continue to recognise and thank the vital work that third sector organisations, including Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland, are doing across to support people and communities.
“Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland’s work in helping people get back home from hospital and live well is so important and we want to make sure that the whole of Scotland can benefit from this approach and expect health boards to make the most of the opportunities a partnership like this offers.
“The Cabinet Secretary is meeting with Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland shortly and we will continue to work alongside them to support people living with and affected by respiratory conditions.”