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Scottish general election: diagnose it

People with suspected lung disease have to wait too long to be diagnosed.

There is still a lack of accurate, simple and reliable diagnostic tests, and too much time passes between appointments. A delayed or inaccurate diagnosis means people don’t get the treatment they need and can end up in hospital unnecessarily. For people with aggressive lung disease a delayed diagnosis means they can’t make the most of the time they have left.

The benefits of prompt diagnosis of lung disease are significant in improving quality of life. There is a need for greater public awareness of the symptoms of lung diseases, and of the risks posed by smoking and by any delay in diagnosing smoking-related lung conditions such as lung cancer and COPD.

People with symptoms, abnormal tests or screening results should have these addressed locally and/or where appropriate, should be referred for further assessment and management when lung disease is suspected or confirmed. Early diagnosis and continuous emotional support are key to helping people to live well with a lung disease.

In order to provide the best diagnosis for Scotland, we are calling for the next Scottish Government to involve people with conditions like asthma and COPD in the development of new diagnostic tools, so that future apparatus can be developed for successful real-world adoption.

Expertise should also be localised to diagnostic hubs that share tools, expertise and data to speed up access to and the accuracy of diagnostic tests. Hubs should adopt and test the latest technologies that can rapidly advance our understanding of a person’s condition.

Asthma + Lung UK Scotland are calling for:

  • A clear patient pathway with services for timely, accurate and complete diagnosis for all people with breathlessness and other respiratory symptoms.
  • A comprehensive national lung screening programme, targeting those at high risk of developing lung cancer and other lung conditions.
  • Targeted case-finding for people who have symptoms suggestive of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in general practice with follow-up care and services.

We are therefore calling candidates of the 2021 Scottish General Election to support the below pledge:

The next Scottish government needs to deliver a national programme for lung screening across Scotland

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Read next: how we can better treat Scotland's lungs