Putting lung health in the spotlight
Alison, our director of policy and communications, explains how lung health is going to be in the spotlight for the first time.
You know it’s going to be a red letter day when the national clinical director at NHS England books a telephone call with you. And what a day it was for lung health.
For the first time, lung health is going to be in the spotlight in the new 10-year plan for the NHS.
That means that respiratory disease will become a clinical priority area (with cardiovascular disease), one of only 4 priorities, alongside cancer, mental health and learning disabilities. This is fantastic news for everyone affected by lung disease, and the new prioritisation of lung health will help drive better treatment and care in a way that we haven’t seen before.
The plan will be prepared over the next few months, with decisions expected to be made by November. We have already been feeding in emerging recommendations from our upcoming Taskforce for Lung Health report. We're expecting there to be considerable overlap between the two plans.
As the famous scientist Louis Pasteur said, ‘fortune favours the prepared mind’ and everyone on the Taskforce for Lung Health has been focussed over the last year on deciding what we'd put in a plan, backed up by solid evidence. We're in great shape to advise.
The prime minister has said that she's willing to invest and Professor Steve Powis, the NHS National Clinical Director, is involving us in working out where the plan will go from here. We can expect to see improvements in diagnosis and treatment to bring our respiratory health service in line with the best in the world.
Life expectancy and quality of life for lung patients in England is poor. We've not seen much improvement in the last 10 years compared with other diseases and other countries. Yet we're already spending £10 billion a year on lung health. We can and must do better.
We need to see faster and more accurate diagnosis, and effective care and treatment, no matter where people live in the country. This needs a bold plan. The Taskforce for Lung Health members are ready to work with NHS England and support them to deliver some radical changes, that will transform care and provide hope for the 12 million people in the UK living with a lung condition.
I’m proud that the British Lung Foundation has had the vision and the courage to lead the Taskforce on behalf of all people with lung disease and so pleased that we have got the timing right.
Alison Cook chairs the Taskforce and is in charge of policy and communications at the BLF.