Time to tackle a major killer

A national taskforce has been set up to reduce lung disease mortality, writes Alison Cook.

Lung disease is one of the UK’s three biggest killers, ranking alongside cardiovascular disease and non-respiratory cancers. We have the fourth highest mortality rate from lung disease in Europe, yet there has been no improvement in mortality rates. We are spending £11 billion a year, but a continued lack of any national strategy aimed at improving lung disease outcomes means we are not getting the best out of this investment – far from it. And improvements in mortality have stagnated. 
The Taskforce for Lung Health has been formed so that the respiratory community can write a five-year action plan so that we are not faced with the same depressing outcomes for lung patients in five years’ time. The taskforce is supported by the British Lung Foundation and includes patient organisations, clinical bodies, policy makers and service design and delivery organisations. The taskforce has been consulting extensively with groups and individuals nationally, gathering evidence to support practical recommendations for change. The five-year plan of action will be published at the end of 2018, with key recommendations behind which we can all stand, knowing that these will benefit patients. 
Vital interventions, such as pulmonary rehabilitation, are known to be effective for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease but are not widely offered to, or taken up by, eligible patients. CSP members will know more than anyone that patients who take part in pulmonary rehabilitation programmes experience fewer exacerbations, need fewer GP appointments and hospital admissions, and, if admitted to hospital, spend less time there. What I hope the taskforce will do is help find ways to ensure that patients uniformly have access to the rehabilitative care they need. As a taskforce member, the CSP is well placed to push for long overdue change and to be instrumental in its delivery.
  • Dr Alison Cook is director of policy and communications at the British Lung Foundation

Further reading

Find out more at Task Force for Lung Health

Dr Alison Cook is director of policy and communications at the British Lung Foundation

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