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What The Battle for Breath means in 2016

Dr Penny Woods, our CEO, explains the latest findings from our newest report, The Battle for Breath. 

Penny Woods talks about the Battle for BreathMost of us take breathing for granted. We think less of breathing than the life it sustains. But our new research shows 1 in 5 people face a daily battle for breath. 

It also reveals that lung disease is one of the 3 biggest killer diseases in the UK -  alongside heart conditions and non-respiratory cancers.

What we’ve found

Our special report, called The Battle for Breath, takes a closer look at the impact of 15 major lung conditions, and details how lung disease as a whole affects the UK

We now know for sure that lung disease is having a devastating impact on lives throughout the country – as well as our health services.

The report also shows that if you’re from the most socially deprived 20% of an area, then you're more than twice as likely to have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (or COPD for short). And you’re nearly twice as likely to develop lung cancer.

Disappointingly familiar

While some of our findings are surprising and change our view of lung disease, much is disappointingly familiar. 

The number of people dying from lung disease has barely changed in the last decade.

10 years of failure to robustly tackle lung health in the UK means we’re failing thousands of people.

Over the same period, the number of people dying from heart disease has fallen. It shows that making a concerted effort can make a huge difference to people with heart disease, or non-lung cancers. 

Now it’s time to give lung disease the same attention. It's urgent – we can’t delay any longer!

How we want to fight lung disease

The Battle For Breathe May 2016We’re making 6 key reccomendations to improve the country’s lung health. These all rely on closer collaboration between everyone involved in the delivery of care to patients, from policy-makers to healthcare professionals and researchers. 

  • Policy-makers should set up lung disease taskforces in England and Scotland. Northern Ireland and Wales already have forces or plans in place – we can’t leave anyone else behind
  • We must invest more in lung research – so it’s on equal footing with cancer and cardiovascular
  • Recent efforts to tackle some of the causes, such as tobacco, must be ramped up
  • We need a bigger focus on awareness, screening and early diagnosis
  • Improvements are required in the way data on lung disease is recorded and analysed
  • Invest in prevention, including tackling smoking, obesity, physical inactivity and air pollution

We’ve seen real change for people with other diseases – now it’s time to do the same for the millions of people who fight for breath every day.


More needs to be done to improve knowledge in GPs and nurses at local practice levels and to get them to read from the same page. We don't all suffer the same so one glove does not fit all .

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27 May 2016