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A patients story of general practice and Florence


A patients story of general practice and Florence

Shirley Silvers of Chell Heath, Stoke-on-Trent, suffers from the breathing condition Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and asthma. She is 64 years old and lives alone.

“In 2009 I contracted Swine Flu which caused permanent complications and a deterioration in my condition.

I had to give up my job as a bakery assistant and became registered as disabled. 

I now have a nebuliser at home and have to keep a ‘rescue pack’ in the house.

This contains antibiotics and steroids, and I need to start taking them immediately at the first sign of a chest infection. Of course the problem for me is knowing when the right time is.

Without Florence I would have to go for daily tests at the surgery or wait for a visit from a Community Nurse.

I was asked if I would take part in the initial evaluation of Florence by my GP practice and it has now completely eliminated all that. I conduct daily sputum and oxygen level tests, and text them through. I normally get a reply back within minutes telling me either that everything is fine or that I need to take some action. If there is any doubt the surgery can contact me.

“I find it an absolute lifeline. Although I have very good neighbours I don’t have anyone who regularly visits me on a daily basis, and no-one would know if I fell ill. 

With Florence I really do feel like I have someone with me all the time and that my condition is being managed. I haven’t had a chest infection since January, and I’m absolutely convinced that Florence is responsible for that.

My sister also has COPD and lives in part of the country where Florence isn’t available. She has had to call 999 and been admitted to hospital several times. Each time she leaves it has to be under the supervision of a team of specialist nurses. It is very frightening and it must cost the health service a phenomenal amount. She is really hoping they adopt Florence where she lives.

I can use Florence anywhere I can get a signal from my mobile phone provider, so it doesn’t stop me going out or doing anything I want to. The technology is really very simple to use.

I feel like I’m in control of my condition and don’t need to go running to the surgery every time I feel a bit under the weather.

Some people may say this is simply saving the NHS money, to which I would say “good”. I don’t want to be taking up an ambulance or a hospital bed, but most of all I don’t want an exacerbation of my condition.

Florence is a really valuable service, and I’m glad I am able to use it and hope I will always be able to.”