New Lung Health Taskforce to tackle Britain’s third biggest killer

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) and the British Lung Foundation (BLF) have launched a new Taskforce for Lung Health that will work, in collaboration, to produce a new national 5 year prevention, diagnosis and treatment plan for lung health

In the UK, 10,000 people are diagnosed with lung disease every week and it is statistically Britain’s 3rd biggest killer (115,000 people a year die from lung disease — 1 person every 5 minutes).

Dr Penny Woods, Chief Executive, British Lung Foundation, said: “We are proud to be supporting the first ever Taskforce for Lung Health. We know from the patients that, despite some great examples of care and treatment, the big picture for people with a lung conditions just is not good enough. Lung disease is the third biggest killer in the UK. It affects the lives of more than 12 million people and costs the economy billions each year.

“Our ambition is to work with patients, professionals, the NHS, and the pharmaceutical industry to design and publish a new, five-year plan for lung health. Like the cancer and mental health taskforces before, this will lead to a step change in how we prevent, diagnose and treat respiratory disease.

 Lung patients should be able to expect world class care. Our plan will make sure everyone affected by lung disease gets the outcomes they deserve.

Currently, bronchodilators and steroids are the two classes of medication commonly used to treat most chronic lung diseases. Both are used to treat symptoms associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which affects an estimated 3m people in the UK.

Britain’s 5.4m asthma patients (affecting 1 in 11 children and 1 in 12 adults) also use these treatments to combat acute and long-term symptoms.

Professor Mike Morgan, National Clinical Director for Respiratory for NHS England said: “Respiratory disease, particularly asthma and COPD remains a substantial burden on health services especially with ageing populations and the co-existence of other non-communicable diseases.

“Although progress has been made, both conditions will continue to require improvements in the delivery of treatment. This is particularly important with the development a stratified medicine approach with new drugs and a more population based approach to commissioning.”

Recent innovations in lung disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment have led to improvements. These include pilots to screen for and diagnose lung cancer and guidance and best practice for inhaler technique and digital self-management.

Dr Penny Woods, Chief Executive of the BLF, will chair the Taskforce for Lung Health. Alongside The ABPI and its members, other Taskforce members include:

  • Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Respiratory Care
  • Association of Respiratory Nurse Specialists
  • Asthma UK
  • British Geriatrics Society
  • British Thoracic Society
  • Cystic Fibrosis Trust
  • Primary Care Respiratory Society
  • Public Health England
  • Respiratory Futures
  • Right Care
  • Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation
  • Royal College of Anaesthetists
  • Royal College of Emergency Medicine
  • Royal College of GPs
  • Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
  • Royal College of Physicians
  • Royal College of Surgeons

Su Jones, NHS Engagement Partner at The ABPI and National Lead for Accelerating Access and Uptake said: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to bring the pharmaceutical industry’s expertise to bear as we work together to improve the state of lung health in the UK.

“With lung disease responsible for more than 700,000 hospital admissions and more than 6m inpatient bed days in the UK each year, this new group should have its sights set on delivering genuine results. Accelerating access and uptake of the latest preventative measures, diagnostic tools and personalised treatments can and will save the NHS time and money.

I would hope that by 2022/23 we will have seen valuable steps forward in all of these areas, improving the quality of live for the millions of Britons currently suffering from respiratory conditions.

Building on the success of previous pharmaceutical industry, patient group and NHS collaborations on Cancer and Mental Health, the new Taskforce for Lung Health will begin gathering evidence in January 2018 and is scheduled to first report by late 2018.

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