Four companies - Air Products, Allied Oxycare/Medigas, BOC and Linde – have been awarded contracts to modernise services for patients with breathing difficulties and needing oxygen therapy at home by the end of the year.

Across England around 60,000 people with long-term respiratory conditions such as cystic fibrosis and emphysema require specialised oxygen equipment at home and without it would effectively be forced to live in hospital.

Patients will be provided with lighter weight cylinders, smaller, more efficient concentrators, liquid oxygen and for the first time, portable systems that allow greater mobility and independence.

Health Minister, Jane Kennedy, said: \\$quot;The new services will ensure that patients have access to the latest equipment that meets their individual needs and helps to improve their quality of life. Patients want to be at home and we want them to have the confidence and support to manage their symptoms at home.\\$quot;

Dame Helena Shovelton of the British Lung Foundation agreed that the new service should benefit patients. She said: \\$quot;The British Lung Foundation is delighted that people who need long term oxygen therapy will have access to lightweight equipment that will enable them to go out more easily and so lead as full a life as possible.\\$quot;

Around 10 per cent of acute admissions to hospital are people with severe breathing difficulties, a total of 300,000 every year.

Home oxygen therapy is also used to enable premature babies to be discharged from hospital so they can be at home with their parents as quickly as possible.

For further information:
Air Products
BOC
Linde
Medigas
British Lung Foundation