Accidents and Emergency Departments have seen visits due to lung diseases, almost doubled within a decade, as more and more viral influenza strains and increased air pollution are of importance.
The shortage of lung experts means that services may be uneven, but some breathing teams are stretching. The enormous increase increases the pressure on hospitals, especially in the winter months, and prompts calls for a new national strategy to tackle the problem that, according to the British Pulmonary Disease Foundation, costs the UK economy at 11 billion pounds per year.
View data shared with observer from the British Thoracic Society (BTC), reveals that last year there were 913,646 visits to England for lung diseases – including pneumonia, influenza, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and asthma – nearly doubled since 2011.
The increase has seen a corresponding increase in hospital intake. In December 2016, BTS data showed that 32,492 admissions were the result of attendance for respiratory diseases – more than three times the average of each of the 20 most common complaints that regularly elicit ingestion.
The findings will raise concerns about the threat to public health caused by the outbreak of influenza – and the ability of the NHS to cope with this – the coming winter. They show that in the 12 months to April 2017, 62% more people died of respiratory conditions in the winter than in other seasons.
"Almost every winter the NHS is struggling to cope with the increase in the number of people with lung diseases being admitted to hospital through A & E," said Dr. Jonathan Bennett, incoming chair of the BTS Board and a lung specialist. "This increase is somewhat predictable, as cold weather can weaken the immune system and make us more susceptible to viruses circulating."
However, he said that even though the NHS knew the wave was coming, it was not enough to deal with it.
"If you think about winter pressure, there is a doubling of acute and emergency cases, but there is no doubling of the respiratory doctors to manage them." We are not focused on turning the tops, we are ready to perform the average values.
Lung experts identify several factors behind the increase in lung-related signs of A and E. These include an increase in the number of elderly people who may be unstable due to lung disease or other health problems, the contribution of pollution the outdoor air and the internal space for inflammation of lung diseases and the strength of influenza strains and other viruses in winter.
In addition, BTS claims the lack of investment in treatments that could prevent people with pre-existing pulmonary illnesses who need hospitalization, such as support for stopping smoking. Society has also called for further increases in vaccination against influenza, especially in risk groups.
He also wants a national plan to diagnose lung disease earlier and to have patients with a respiratory disease such as pneumonia and COPD have in-depth assessments – including a review of their drug and inhalation method to promote better self-management of their condition.
Lack of funding and experts is also a factor, says BTS. Last year, about four out of 10 hospitals in England had at least one free respiratory counseling post, partly due to an inadequate number of pulmonary specialists trained at a time when demand for services increased.
In 2014, the UK government spends about 28 million pounds on airway research – half of the cost of studying cardiovascular disease and one third of cancer research costs.
If the spending of funds from charities is analyzed, BTS said the difference was even wider. He argues that only 2% of all medical research spending by charities goes to respiratory diseases, compared with 30% for cancer and 10% for cardiovascular disease.
The number of A & E visits in England last year for lung-related illnesses
£ 11 billion
The expected annual cost to the UK economy due to respiratory conditions and their treatment
The expected amount of medical expenses incurred by British charities for respiratory diseases