Neckbreathers such as laryngectomees and permanent tracheostomies are not numerous. Medical and emergency service personnel do not meet us that frequently. This unfamiliarity can lead to unfortunate consequences, especially when accompanied by a lack of training. There is no point in trying to deliver oxygen or rescue breathing through our mouth or nose. Only the stoma, or hole in our neck, offers a route to our lungs.
In the worst cases errors can lead to death though more frequently the consequence is a delay in the necessary treatment and a loss of confidence in medical staff. Several members of HNChelp can report on such errors and there have been several incidents within the North Trent region in the past year.
The National Tracheostomy Safety Project (NTSP) has been working to improve the safety of neckbreathers, tracheostomies and laryngectomees, when in hospital or in other situations.
July 7th sees the European launch of the Global Tracheostomy Collaborative (GTC). This is a world-wide initiative to improve the treatment of neckbreathers wherever they live. The NTSP support the work of the GTC, as does NALC.
I have been invited to speak at this event at the Royal College of Surgeons, to provide a patient perspective. The headline speaker on the day is Professor Stephen Hawking . I will report on the event at a later date.