It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Ms Dorries. I would like to talk about respiratory disease, which affects one in five people in the UK, is responsible for about 1 million hospital admissions and costs the NHS almost £5 billion a year. It is also the third biggest cause of death in the UK. It is the poor relation compared with the investment that goes into tackling the other four big conditions. To put that into context, in 2012, respiratory disease killed 80,000 people—that does not include lung cancer, which killed an additional 35,500 people.
The UK also has the highest mortality rate for respiratory disease among the OECD nations, double that of countries such as Poland and Germany and treble that of countries such as Estonia and Finland. Sadly, the worst thing about those statistics is that many of the deaths would be preventable with the right care. I understand and welcome the announcement by the Secretary of State that he is making it a priority for NHS England to prevent people from dying prematurely from respiratory disease. His ambition is to make us one of the best in Europe for survival rates by improving prevention, diagnosis and treatment. That is a very big statement and a huge aspiration when we are talking about reducing respiratory deaths in this country by almost two thirds.
I want to focus my remarks predominantly on asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease—known as COPD—which together affect almost 6 million people in the UK, including me. I am chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on respiratory health. With the support of Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation, we conducted an inquiry into respiratory deaths in an effort to help the Government and the NHS to understand why so many people are dying from these conditions and what can be done to prevent that. I am grateful to the other members of the all-party group for their support, and for the amazing contributions that we receive from patients.