Thousands of Scots with COPD could end up in hospital this winter 16 November 2022 Thousands of Scots living with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), an illness that affects their ability to breath, will risk serious health problems if forced to cut back on heating because of the cost of living crisis. On World COPD Day on Wednesday 16 November, we’re calling for help for the 137,000 Scots whose health depends on a warm home and access to medical equipment, such as oxygen machines. Some people with COPD are telling us that they are cutting back on heating and other essentials despite the risks to their health. We’re backing a call for the Scottish Government to provide an additional £400 winter fuel payment for people receiving disability benefit, including 12,000 Scots who have COPD. We’re also urging NHS Scotland to make sure that the 6,000 Scots who are dependent on oxygen machines are aware they are entitled to a rebate for the cost. As hard as I have tried not to put the central heating on, it’s just too cold without it. Staying warm is "extremely important" Amy Small, a GP and our Clinical Advisor, said people with COPD risk making their condition worse if they cut back on heating or the use of medical equipment such as oxygen machines or nebulisers. She said: “When you have COPD, staying warm and being able to breathe warm air are extremely important for managing your condition. If people cut back on heating to keep energy costs low, I'm worried people with COPD could end up hospitalised due to their cold housing environment.” Fuel bills more than doubled Sandra Dow, 69, lives in Elgin, Moray. A retired manager with the local Citizens Advice Bureau, Sandra has both COPD and MS. She said: “The cold affects my breathing – there’s a cold wind today and I was out at the optician and struggled to catch my breath. As hard as I have tried not to put the central heating on, it’s just too cold without it. “In winter, I’d normally have the heating on all day at about 21.5-22C. Now I’ve set the timer for a couple of hours in the morning, then from 2pm until 7pm, and I’ve knocked the temperature down to 20C. “I’ve invested in some warm throws, and I wrap one around my legs and one around my shoulders. I’ve even taken to wearing my face mask because at least then I’m breathing in warm air.” Sandra’s fuel bills have more than doubled to £270 a month even though she has solar panels, which should keep her electricity payments down. She said: “I can’t believe I am talking like this. I’m horrified that it’s come to this. I could not have imagined I’d be in this situation even a few months ago. The cost of everything has gone up so much. If milk gets any more expensive, I’ll take my coffee black.” People are telling us they are risking their health to cut back on essentials like heating and eating because they are even more scared of rising costs. Risking their health Jane-Claire Judson, our chief executive, said: “This is about dignity in care. Nobody should be forced to cut back on essentials because they are unwell. “COPD is a terrifying condition because it affects people’s basic ability to breathe. But people are telling us they are risking their health to cut back on essentials like heating and eating because they are even more scared of rising costs. They are simply not getting the financial help they need to ensure they can keep themselves well this winter. “The Scottish Government can do more and needs to take urgent action before temperatures drop and people start to get ill. It’s what’s right and it’s what makes economic sense, saving the NHS the far bigger cost of treating serious illness.” We’re backing a call from the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland for an additional £400 to-up payment for people receiving a disability benefit, winter heating payment or carers allowance.