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Northern Ireland manifesto: diagnose it

People with suspected lung conditions wait too long to be diagnosed. There is still a lack of accurate, simple, and reliable diagnostic tests, and too much time between appointments.

A delayed or inaccurate diagnosis means people do not get the treatment they need and can end up in hospital unnecessarily. For people with aggressive lung conditions a delayed diagnosis means they can’t access life-prolonging treatments. We are calling for a comprehensive lung health screening programme following the success of bowel and breast cancer screening across the UK. We urgently need spirometry test rates to improve in Northern Ireland. Spirometry remains a core tool in diagnosing lung conditions early.

We know from official statistics that as of September 2021 58% of patients had waited more than 9 weeks for a spirometry test and 23% waited more than 26 weeks. Early and accurate diagnosis and continuous emotional support are key to helping people to live well with a lung condition.

To ensure the best diagnosis outcomes The Department of Health needs to involve people with conditions like asthma and COPD in the development of new diagnostic tools and in decisions about where diagnostic tests can be accessed.

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Read next: How we can better treat Northern Ireland's lungs