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Counting the cost of lung disease

Penny explains how much lung disease is costing the UK.

Last summer, our battle for breath report showed that the UK faces the 4th worst outcomes from lung disease in Europe. Health professionals and researchers do great work, but death rates haven’t improved in 10 years.

Lung disease accounts for 700,000 hospital admissions and over 6 million hospital bed days each year at a time when the NHS is already under pressure.

Our findings from last year’s report needed more investigation. So we worked with economists to calculate how much money lung disease is costing us.

The results are striking. Our new report shows that lung disease costs the economy £11 billion every year. Of this, almost £10 billion is spent on direct costs to the NHS: GP appointments, time in hospital, treatments and medication.

We lose £1 billion each year because of working days lost to illness. It’s obvious from Dick’s story how difficult it is to live with a lung condition and keep working normally.

Of course we need to invest properly in treatment and support for people with lung disease. But at the moment, we’re spending a lot of money without seeing real progress for patients. That’s not fair for people living with their condition, and it puts strain on the health service at a time when we all know funding is tight.

We need to do something. Today, we’re calling for the government to support the first ever taskforce for lung health. Patients, charities, professionals and royal colleges will sit down together and come up with a new plan for lung health.

We want to find solutions to better care for everyone with a lung condition and make sure that every penny we spend on lung disease gets results.

Last year, the government worked with cancer charities to set up the cancer taskforce. Lung disease deserves a taskforce too.

And you can help.

Tell your local politicians that you want the government and NHS to sit down with us and come up with a long-term plan for the nation’s lung health. If you or a loved one has had a personal experience with a lung condition, mention that in your email. It will make it much more powerful.

Your support is so important. Your voice can help make the government listen to us. We can’t afford to ignore lung disease as a country any more. Please join us to call for the change we need. Today.

Email your representative now


Penny Woods

Penny is the CEO of the British Lung Foundation.

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14 March 2017