Saving Your Breath: How better lung health benefits us all

The government isn’t taking lung health seriously. Lung conditions remain the third biggest killer in the UK, and cost the NHS billions every single year. But it’s those who are living with a lung condition who are paying the price for the government’s lack of action.

It’s time the government got serious about lung health. Our report sets out three steps to fix lung healthcare – to stop lung conditions destroying lives and burdening the NHS.

This is life + breath

1 in 5 of us will get a lung condition in our lifetime. But thousands aren’t getting the care they need.  

Lung conditions cost the NHS almost £10 billion every year, and are a leading cause of winter pressures in the NHS. More people are dying from a lung condition in the UK than anywhere else in Europe.  

Right now, thousands of people with lung conditions are suffering. They’re scared, alone and exhausted. They’re being diagnosed too late, or not getting the right treatment – leading them to become seriously ill and needing hospital care. While those living in the poorest areas are much more likely to die from their lung condition – simply because of where they live.

This is life + breath. The government need to get serious about lung health – now.

What we found:  

The NHS spends £9.6 billion on lung conditions each year, but far too much of this money is spent on treating with people who have already become critically ill and need unplanned, urgent help. Much more money and time needs to be spent helping those with lung conditions to stay well and out of hospital.

While other large killers such as cardiovascular disease (CVD) and stroke have seen significant progress in recent years, lung health has stood still. The avoidable mortality rate for CVD has improved by 58% over the last 20 years, while for lung conditions it has improved by only 14%. If lung health had improved at the same rate as CVD, there would now be around 8,000 fewer deaths each year from lung conditions.

The policy changes recommended in our report could save the NHS a total of £307 million a year and free up almost 312,000 bed days, over 100,000 of which would be during the winter period.    

What we are calling for:  

  • We are calling on the government to give everyone with a lung condition the care they need – and save lives – by following our three step plan:
  • Ramp up and fully fund testing to make sure everyone who needs it is able to get an early and accurate diagnosis  
  • Support everyone with a lung condition to stay healthy by improving data and monitoring, including annual reviews with a medical professional  
  • Improve access to the medications and treatments that work so people with lung conditions have the best possible chances to live well