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The battle for breath - the economic burden of lung disease

Lung disease costs the UK a staggering £11 billion every year.


Our report, Estimating the economic burden of respiratory illness in the UK, reveals the financial cost of lung disease to the NHS, patients and the economy.

The report supports our battle for breath campaign. We're pushing for a new strategy to improve the care and support received by people with lung conditions and prevent more people getting lung disease. 

Key findings

  • Lung disease in the UK costs the UK a staggering £11 billion a year.
  • £9.9 billion falls directly on the NHS and patients in private costs
  • £1.2 billion falls on the wider economy through work days lost.
  • Lung disease is the 4th most costly disease area to the UK, after mental health conditions, musculoskeletal diseases and heart disease.
  • Among the most costly conditions are COPD (£1.9 billion each year) and asthma (£3 billion).

Read the full report (PDF, 1MB)

Thanks to Pro Bono Economics for their help preparing this report.

Pro Bono Economics (PBE) helps charities and social enterprises understand and improve the impact and value of their work. Set up in 2009 by Martin Brookes (Tomorrow’s People) and Andy Haldane (Bank of England), PBE matches professional economists who want to use their skills to volunteer with charities.

PBE has over 500 economists on its books and has helped over 300 charities large and small, covering a wide range of issues including education, employment, mental health and complex needs

Julia, who is Chief Executive of PBE says: “Our work looking at the economic costs to society of some of the most common yet complex illnesses is crucial for charities like Asthma + Lung UK. It will help them make the case to government to address the huge gap in healthcare services for lung disease. We are shocked to see such a large figure for the burden of respiratory illness to the UK, but hope that it will help support The battle for breath campaign calling for a new strategic approach to improve outcomes.”