Less than a fifth of people living with COPD in the UK receive the fundamentals of recommended care, including support with smoking cessation, research shows.

The Asthma + Lung UK 2022 survey of more than 6,500 people living with COPD found provision of the five fundamentals of care had dropped in every nation, down almost 7% from 24.5% in 2022 to 17.6% in 2022. 

The fundamentals, as recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care, included: smoking cessation support, pneumococcal and influenza vaccination, pulmonary rehabilitation, personalised self-management planning, and optimised treatment for co-morbidities.

'This is a shocking and disappointing result, especially considering that people with COPD are at increased risk from Covid-19, and as such, are amongst those who should have been prioritised to ensure their condition was well managed and controlled as far as possible through the pandemic,' the charity said.

Overall, the survey results outlined in the 2022 report revealed a worrying picture of delayed diagnosis, substandard care, and a disproportionate impact of equalities on people with COPD, the charity said.

'One year on from our first report in 2021, significant issues with delays to diagnosis and the quality of COPD care identified then have not been resolved and, in many cases, have deteriorated,' the organisation wrote.

Among the survey findings, a quarter of the respondents said they had waited five or more years for a COPD diagnosis, with one in eight waiting more than a decade.

Social inequalities were also apparent with someone from the poorest 10% of households being more than two and a half times more likely to have COPD than someone from the most affluent 10%.

COPD diagnosis needed to be faster and more accurate, the charity said, calling for a range of measures including an urgent increase in the availability of quality-assured spirometry across the system.

In addition, COPD care and treatment should be targeted at people who are most at risk, with the charity urging governments and health services to ensure timely case finding amongst high-risk groups, including smokers, people experiencing homelessness, those who are poorer or in a high-risk occupation.

Asthma + Lung UK has this month also reminded people eligible for the NHS pneumococcal vaccine, including children and adults with severe asthma, pulmonary fibrosis or COPD, to ensure they are protected from pneumonia this winter

Sarah Woolnough, Asthma + Lung UK chief executive, said the UK must do better to protect people from life-threatening chest infections, with an analysis by the charity showing more than 25,000 people die from pneumonia in the UK each year.

'This winter is going to be hard on the nation’s lungs, with higher rates of respiratory infections and many people struggling to stay well with colder homes and fewer food choices,' she added.

This comes after a study led by the University of California San Fransico and supported by the US National Institutes of Health found that poor sleep is associated with life-threatening flare-ups of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.