World Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Day

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 21st November 2019.

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Photo of Alexander Stewart Alexander Stewart Conservative

I am delighted to take part in this members’ business debate and I congratulate Annie Wells on bringing it to the chamber. As we have heard, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, consists of a number of conditions, including bronchitis and emphysema, that make it difficult for individuals to breathe. The condition is unfortunately progressive, long term and without a cure.

We have heard that more than 140,000 individuals in Scotland have it. However, those figures could be even higher, because many people do not know that they have it—they are undiagnosed. Without optimal treatment, progressive lung disease reduces the quality of life for those individuals.

I am honoured to have been recently nominated by the British Lung Foundation as smoking cessation champion at the Scottish Parliament. Although it is widely accepted that not everybody who is living with more than one COPD condition has been a smoker, if someone has been a smoker, that has a massive impact on their condition.

I am delighted to be co-convener, along with Emma Harper, of the cross-party group on lung health, which is a progressive group that has done a huge amount of work in the Parliament over the past year or two, and that work continues. I have met many individuals and members of organisations who have come to the group’s meetings.

I pay tribute to the fantastic work of Linda McLeod, who got her British Empire medal for her involvement with breathe easy Clackmannanshire, which is a support group in my region. I also pay tribute to the people who are involved with breathe easy groups in Perth, Fife and Tayside, which do tremendous work in supporting individuals who have breathing conditions and their family members. It was fantastic to find out that breathe easy Clackmannanshire has been nominated for a Queen’s award for volunteering, and I wish the group all the best as its nomination progresses. The breathe easy Clackmannanshire group has done so much to involve people and to get them to participate.

Recently, the group and I joined the British Lung Foundation in its call for NHS Forth Valley to guarantee the future of pulmonary rehabilitation services in Clackmannanshire.