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British Lung Foundation
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Should my GP refer me to a Lung Specialist at hospital?


I've been having breathlessness & chest pains for over 6 weeks now..

I've seen my GP numerous times (who prescribed various antibiotics, inhalers & oral steroids) over the 6 weeks.

Last weekend I had to go A&E because my breathing became worse; where I finally had a chest xray & ECG taken, the A&E doctor informed me that I had Emphysema & Bronchitis.. I was told to see my GP about a referral to have a Spirometer & a Lung Specialist @ hospital.. I was allowed back home with more steroids & inhalers..

I went to my GP surgery yesterday to have the Spirometer (the results were inconclusive because I couldn't exhale enough to get a reading), I then saw my GP; he just told me to carry-on with inhalers, he said he wouldn't refer me to a Specialist or a COPD Nurse's incase this was just seasonal Asthma', even though he had the letter from the A&E doctor..

Should I ask to see another doctor or just keep pestering my own GP?

I'm really scared as my father died from Emphysema 5 years ago..

Any advice would be very useful?!


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15 Replies


I suggest you change your GP immediately, he obviously hasn't taken notice of the letter from the A&E.

I also advise to to ring the BLF helpline on 03000 030 555 for advice asap to put your mind at rest.

Take care


Hi There

I am sorry to read of the problems you have been having and for how poorly you have been feeling.

Do you have a copy of the letter from the hospital stating what advice the hospital gave? If so i would suggest copying this and giving it to your doctor - this may help to get you the referral. Alternatively if you can remember the doctor you saw at A&E you could call his secretary. I know this seems like an awful lot of work especially when you're feeling so poorly.

You could though speak to another more sympathetic GP at your surgery - the fact that you have been diagnosed in A&E through a chest X ray and the continual symptoms you are having and being unable to perform a spirometry really warrants more investigations - this will help in assessing what treatment will help you. Usually a spirometry would be performed about 6 or so weeks after an infection or flare up of symptoms - as you have found out tests done before this time can be inconclusive or give false readings as your airways are already inflammed.

Please call us and we can arrange for you to speak to one of our nurses.

I hope you start to feel better soon.

Best Wishes


I agree with the advice already given. See another GP - even if it means changing surgeries, as the treatment you are getting is not acceptable.

Thanks everyone. Your advise is really helpful & reassuring.. (thought I was wasting my GPs time for while).. Oh, I forgot to mention before - all my GP went on about was smoking, even though I stopped as soon as I left A&E (11 days ago now)..

I will ring the helpline today & let you know what they say.. Xx

Many congrats for giving up the ciggies. Best thing you could have done.

Oh, Jo..

I didn't have a copy of A&E letter, they sent it straight to my GP surgery..

I know he received it because I could see it on his computer screen when I went ystdy..

Well done on stopping smoking, I did it only recently with the patches, it is very very hard but worthwhile as my breathing has improved a lot only I've developed a cough I never had before. If nothing else it will stop anyone else implying, rightly or wrongly, that it's our own fault for continuing to smoke and we can expect better reactions and better treatment as a result, hopefully anyway. I can understand your worry about your dad having died as my dad also died, at an early age, in his case of lung cancer and all that got it out of my head that I had the same was an exray. The xray was instigated by my own gp after I had a sudden and significant weight loss aside from having copd. Don't be scared, a lot of the breathlessness could be down to anxiety and the helpline and the advice given on here will put you on the right road to getting better and coping with your illness and medication.



Thanks Lavender, yes the patches definitely help (I went to my smoking cessation clinic today & my results have gone down from 16 to 1 (which is the same as a non-smoker) soo I'm pretty pleased with myself).

I've also had a phone call from the BLF, she was extremely helpful.. Advised me to see another doctor & ask for referral, as I could still have an infection (in addition to COPD) which is not being treated properly (she's also sending me out a 'pack about COPD', which will be really helpful when I go & see another doctor @ my GPs)..

Soo, thank you so much for all your advise..

I will keep you posted..

Seeing another GP sounds like a good idea and well done with the not smoking too. I will tell my son about the patches as he is trying to quit. He will be 30 next month and I don't want him to end up like his dad (sarc and copd). Hope all goes well for you. xx

Thanks Sassy.

Yes, the Nicorette patches are a life-saver (the come in different strengths, depending on how much you smoke & how often (ie, you can have a 12 hr or 24 hr patch, which release a steady flow of nicotine into your skin throughout the day or day & night), I'm using the 24hr (1st stage) patch as I was a very heavy smoker (smoking about 20/30 cigarettes throughout the day AND during the night) ..

In addition, I also use the Nicorette oral spray (which can be used every hour or so depending on your 'cravings', this works instantly & helps control the initial 'cravings for a cigarette'); My daughter (who stopped smoking the same time as I did (so we could support each other), uses the 12 hour, 2nd stage patch (as she only used to smoke 6/7 cigarettes throughout the day only), she also uses Nicorette chewing gum, which works the same way as my spray..

I hope that will help your son to quit, but (which most people don't realise), he must really WANT to quit, even though is a variety of Nicorette merchandise available you still need a lot of will-power too..

We found the first few days were the worst but each day it's getting easier & its going to stop my chest getting any worse (which is well worth it all).. Xx

Oh, just a quick update ;

I'm going to see another doctor @ my GP surgery tomorrow, because (since I was taken off oral steroids & not prescribed more antibiotics) my chest pains & breathlessness has increased - to the point now that I only slept about a hour last night & feel soo poorly again..

I will let you know what happens after I have been to the surgery tomorrow..

Thanks for all your support & advise xx

You seem to be having the same problem I had with my GP. I went through similar to you. I immediately changed my GP. I saw the new one 2 days later. He immediately arranged for me to see a respiratory consultant at my local hospital. Now I'm being given the correct medicines and advice. Just the Rehab to get sorted now.

Don't leave it too long like I did.


I've managed to get an appointment to see another doctor at my GP surgery this afternoon (as I'm still unwell & only getting about a hour sleep at night, due to constant chest pains & breathlessness, plus I feel soo drained now & not got strength to fight any bugs that I might have anymore, soo its definitely time to go & pester surgery again)..

Will keep you posted

Hope the GP appointment went well?


No it didn't go well at all :-(

I saw another doctor (from the practice), told her I was still having chest pains, shortness of breathe (which would have been obvious as I couldn't get whole sentances out) & couldn't sleep for longer than a few hours per night (i even explained about my visit to A&E and what the casualty doctor had said, again!), she agreed I had COPD - but stated it could be managed in the GPs surgery & that there was 'no need' for me to be referred to a Lung Specialist...

She just told me to carry-on with the ventolin & becotide inhalers, and prescribed RANITIDINE (to be taken at night to prevent gastric reflux), I informed the doctor that I already take Omeprazole (which is also an ant-acid) & that the pains I have were NOT from my stomach or my oesophagus but from my lungs!! She just advised that I take the Ranitidine for 5 days & if I don't feel any better, to go back & see her!!

I really feel like I'm wasting my time & valuable breathe now as my doctors just aren't listening!!

I'm seriously considering changing my doctor!!

Sorry to keep on but any advise would be most welcome?!

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