Welsh elections: diagnose it

People with suspected lung disease have to wait too long to be diagnosed. There is still a lack of accurate, simple and reliable diagnostic tests, and too much time passes between appointments.

A delayed or inaccurate diagnosis means people don’t get the treatment they need and can end up in hospital unnecessarily. For people with aggressive lung disease a delayed diagnosis means they can’t make the most of the time they have left.

The benefits of prompt diagnosis of lung disease are significant, particularly in such conditions as asthma, COPD, sleep-disordered breathing, occupational lung diseases and a wide range of interstitial lung diseases. There is a need for greater public awareness of the symptoms of such lung diseases, of the risks posed by smoking and by any delay in diagnosing smoking-related lung conditions such as lung cancer and COPD.

People with symptoms, abnormal tests or screening results should have these addressed locally and/or where appropriate, should be referred for further assessment and management when lung disease is suspected or confirmed. Early diagnosis and continuous emotional support are key to helping people to live well with a lung disease.

In order to provide the best diagnosis for Wales, we are calling for Welsh Government to involve people with conditions like asthma and COPD in the development of new diagnostic tools, so that future apparatus can be developed for successful real-world adoption.

Expertise should also be localised to diagnostic hubs that share tools, expertise and data to speed up access to and the accuracy of diagnostic tests. Hubs should adopt and test the latest technologies that can rapidly advance our understanding of a person’s condition.

We are calling for:

  • A nationwide programme of lung screening, including spirometry, to the over-35 age group who smoke, delivered by accredited staff within primary and secondary care.
  • A Public Health Wales education campaign on what lung conditions areand when to be concerned about a long-term cough or symptoms that are not going away.
  • Increased levels of support for people going through trial treatments for their conditions, especially for parents of children with asthma.

We are therefore calling candidates of the 2021 Senedd elections to support the below pledge:

I believe the next Senedd must roll out a nationwide programme for lung screening across Wales, so the best diagnosis is available to everyone.

Next: how we can better treat lung disease