Action on respiratory disease is needed now
Respiratory Respiratory disease is the UK's third main cause of death, yet is largely neglected. Dr Penny Woods, Chief Executive of the British Lung Foundation, calls for action.
Lung disease costs the UK a staggering £11bn each year. With £9.9 billion falling directly on the NHS. The UK has Europe's fourth highest rate of respiratory disease deaths and diagnosis is often poor and late. Respiratory health has been neglected for decades.
Obstructive sleep apnoea
For instance, obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) – a breathing problem that happens when you sleep and your muscles relax – affects about 1.5 million people in the UK, yet fewer than half of these are currently receiving the treatment they need. The resulting disruption to sleep, means sufferers can be drowsy during the day, creating a range of dangers, for example, driving accidents.
Treatment is simple, yet waiting times can be up to a year. Investing more in awareness, diagnosis and treatment of OSA could save the NHS up to £28m and prevent up to 40,000 traffic accidents a year.
Avoidable causes of lung disease
At the British Lung Foundation, we’re campaigning for greater investment in respiratory care, research into lung disease, and into avoidable causes, such as air pollution. Toxic air, left unchecked, will lead to a rising tide of respiratory disease and other health problems, particularly among those who are most vulnerable. Children, people with a pre-existing condition and the elderly will be hit hardest.
During the recent Breathe Easy Week, our lung health support groups were out campaigning, calling for more clean air zones, reduced use of diesel vehicles through an ambitious and fair diesel scrappage scheme, and more air pollution monitoring.
Lung disease is taking a huge financial toll on our health service, businesses, and society. Governments and the NHS in both England and Scotland must take action. We are now leading an independent taskforce for respiratory health to improve outcomes for patients and the nation’s lung health.