Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.Donate to our crowdfunder
My hon. and learned Friend makes an incredibly important point, to which I will return later. The information that has come out of NICE is sadly testament to the complacency that we see regarding the effects of respiratory disease, and to how some professionals and patients treat the condition, ultimately resulting in those patients’ deaths.
Contributors to the all-party group’s report include health care professionals, charities, patients, families and professional organisations, as well as a range of other people who contributed both written and verbal evidence. I will read the story of one of those people a little later, but first I want to look at chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which is an umbrella term for a set of conditions that includes bronchitis and emphysema. Combined, such conditions kill more than 30,000 people a year in the UK—around 5% of all deaths in the UK from all causes. A COPD patient’s journey is often punctuated by multiple exacerbations, which are sudden worsenings of the symptoms, often triggered by external factors such as infection and problems with air quality, that often lead to hospitalisation.
To put it into context, people suffering from COPD exacerbations are the second most common cause of emergency hospital admissions in this country, the biggest being ischaemic heart disease, which is effectively coronary heart disease—heart attacks and strokes. It is estimated that COPD leads to 94,000 admissions a year, with cold weather often a major contributory factor. The direct costs on the NHS are more than £800 million a year, so COPD is causing a huge problem in terms of the costs for the NHS and the impact on individual patients. One of the worst statistics that the all-party group’s inquiry came across was that 50% of people who are admitted to hospital with severe COPD die within four years—once it has reached the stage of their being admitted to hospital, they sadly have a life expectancy of four years.