According to research, the United Kingdom has recorded the highest deaths due to lung conditions in western Europe, urging calls from health organisations for urgent action to tackle the situation.
The charity Asthma and Lung UK report concluded that more than 100,000 people in the UK have died from various lung conditions, including bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma attacks, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) every year.
Around Europe, only Turkey has a higher respiratory death rate than the Britain. Data analysis up to 2018 shows the latest equivalent data available from across the continent. The death rate is 162.7 per 100,000 people in Turkey and 134.5 in the UK.
Asthma and Lung UK said, “In Germany, the death rate is 76.8 while in France it is 59.1, that is half the UK rate. People in the UK are three times more probable to die from lung conditions than people in Finland, which has the lowest respiratory death rate (38.4) in Europe.”
It described the UK figures as “disgraceful” and said that lung conditions had for too long been treated like the “poor relation compared with other major illnesses like cancer and heart disease”.
Despite them being the third most significant cause of death in the UK, only 2% of publicly supported research is spent on lung conditions, it added.
The charity is calling for more funding to research diagnostic tools and treatments and urged ministers to bring in more challenging clean air targets. It also called for improvements in the care of patients outside the hospital.
Even before the pandemic, the charity said that significant numbers of lung patients were not receiving “basic care” from their GP services, such as medicine checks and help using their inhalers.
Over the past two years, the health of thousands of people has worsened while they waited for respiratory care, and diagnosis rates have fallen.
Katy Brown, 64, a retired nursery nurse from Bristol, diagnosed with COPD in February 2021, said she was shocked by the lack of medical support and the poor general awareness of her condition.