Saving Your Breath: How better lung health benefits all of us in Wales

Our new report examines the costs of lung conditions to the NHS and wider society in Wales, and makes recommendations that will improve health and save money.

Lung disease, including COPD, asthma and pneumonia, is the third leading cause of death in Wales, and places a huge burden on individuals, the NHS and the UK economy. We have the worst death rate from lung disease in western Europe, and hospital admissions for lung conditions have doubled in the last 20 years. Lung conditions, and their burden on the NHS, hit the headlines each and every year as winter pressures mount. But year after year not nearly enough is done to prevent these pressures building up in the first place.

The good news is that we know what works. A significant amount of this burden could be avoided with better prevention and a more effective healthcare response. Asthma + Lung UK commissioned PwC to provide an updated analysis to quantify both the impact of lung conditions, and the positive impact of specific interventions to improve the diagnosis and care for those with asthma and COPD.

This analysis shows that asthma and COPD, the two most prevalent lung conditions:

  • cost the NHS in Wales £295 million in direct costs each year, representing 1.3% of total NHS expenditure
  • cause wider reductions in productivity due to illness and premature death totalling £477 million a year
  • have an overall impact of £772 million on the Welsh economy.

If the three key measures outlined in our blueprint for change were implemented they could:

  • save the NHS £19.5 million a year
  • produce a reduction in hospital bed days of just over 14,000 a year, 5,000 over the winter period
  • produce wider economic benefits of £24.5 million a year.

In our report we have made a series of recommendations which we hope Ministers will take forward to improve lives for people living with lung conditions and save Wales money.

Download our report in: