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Breathe Easy Week 2018 - 18th June - 24th June

View profile for Clare Gammond
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Breathe easy week 2018 - 18th June - 24th June

This year’s event takes place from 18th – 24th June 2018. National charity, the British Lung Foundation (BLF), has more than 230 support groups and many are holding events to help raise awareness of the issues surrounding lung health.

Stephensons recently attended one of these support groups in Wigan and enjoyed taking part in group singing sessions with the ‘Wigan Warblers’. We also gave them a donation to say a big thank you for the work they do in the community. If you or someone you know could benefit from attending a group, you can search for one by entering your postcode on the BLF website. The Wigan & Leigh group will meet during breathe easy week on Monday 18th June 2018 at Leigh Miners Welfare Club.

The facts surrounding lung disease can be quite shocking;

  • It accounts for 700,000 hospital admissions each year
  • 1 in 5 people in the UK have been diagnosed with lung disease
  • Over 1 million people in England are suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD)
  • Each year there are around 37,000 new cases of lung cancer in England
  • Poor air quality is thought to contribute to 40,000 early deaths every year
  • The UK has the 4th highest mortality rate from lung disease in Europe
  • BLF research recently found two thirds of 18-34 year olds didn't know it is one of the top 3 causes of death

Clean air campaign

One of the BLF’s key campaigns places a much needed focus on children’s lung health. Air pollution is an invisible danger and the charity recognises this is a potential public health crisis in the making. Long-term exposure to traffic fumes can increase a child’s chances of developing a lung condition and aggravate symptoms for existing sufferers.

In many of our major towns and cities, recorded pollution levels exceed the World Health Organisation’s recommended limit of 10mgs per cubic metre;

Scunthorpe: 15
Manchester: 13
Swansea: 13
Gillingham: 13
Carlisle: 12
Leeds: 12
Leicester: 12
Liverpool: 12
Nottingham: 12
Plymouth: 12
York: 12
Sheffield: 12
Stoke-On-Trent: 12
London: 11
Coventry: 11
Hull: 11
Derry: 11
Middlesbrough: 11
Norwich: 11
Southend-On-Sea: 11
Stockton-On-Tees: 11
Wigan: 11

The BLF wants the government to set up clean air zones and enact legislation to help enforce them. They also want air quality in and around our schools to be regularly monitored. More than 20,000 people signed their petition asking the government to take action. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has announced a £3.5 billion plan to implement a clear air strategy later this year.

Taskforce for lung health

An exciting new development for 2018 is the ‘taskforce for lung health’ whose members are busy collaborating on a five year plan to improve the nation’s lung health. The BLF’s chief executive, Dr Penny Woods, commented;  

“This is the first time that the lung health community has come together to produce a plan to bring about the transformation that we desperately need. The scale of the task facing us is bigger than what any single organisation can hope to achieve alone.”

Taskforce members include the Association of Respiratory Nurse Specialists, Asthma UK, the British Thoracic Society, Public Health England and the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation. There is an industries forum taking part with representatives from major pharmaceutical companies. Membership was also opened to the general public, who were invited to submit their own evidence. One such person, John, who has idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) shared his experiences after being diagnosed in 2015;

“My diagnosis was a big shock. I've never smoked and I’m relatively young, but I've since found that doesn’t count for much. I've also found that there are large gaps when it comes to IPF and other lung diseases: gaps in knowledge, gaps in research, gaps in funding, gaps in treatment and gaps in support for patients. IPF has no cure. It’s life-limiting at best and severely life-shortening at worst. These gaps shocked me almost as much as my diagnosis.”

The NHS in both England & Scotland currently have no strategic action plans in place to improve their services to sufferers, and it is hoped the taskforce’s report will address this. You can follow developments on the dedicated taskforce website page where you will also find informative videos, blog posts and helpline details.

If you’re currently worried about any unusual symptoms, such as a cough that won’t go away, seek medical advice at the earliest opportunity. When attending medical appointments, we always recommend that you discuss your job history with clinicians. This can help ensure you receive the appropriate investigations and treatment. Please contact our industrial disease team on 0175 321 6399 for some no obligation advice if you have reason to believe your lung health has been affected by working conditions.

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