The north west of England has some of the highest emergency admission and death rates for lung conditions in the UK, according to research by Asthma + Lung UK.

The charity analysed and ranked the latest rates of emergency admissions and deaths from chronic conditions – including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and respiratory infections like flu and pneumonia – for 216 local authorities throughout the UK and found the basic level of care was ‘patchy’.

Asthma + Lung UK’s analysis identified a ‘north-south divide’, with places in the north west of England making up over half (60%) of the UK areas ranked highest for emergency admissions and deaths for lung conditions.

Knowsley, Salford, Blackburn with Darwen, Liverpool, Blackpool and Manchester topped the list, while York, Bracknell Forest, Barnet, Kensington and Chelsea and West Sussex had the lowest rates.

Many of the areas with the poorest lung health also suffer higher levels of deprivation and historically high smoking rates, Asthma + Lung UK noted. The charity pointed to poor quality housing, where cold, damp and mould can all be triggers for asthma attacks or cause lung conditions to worsen, and also blamed ‘an historic lack of investment into lung research and innovation’ across the UK.

Asthma + Lung UK has launched a campaign called ‘End the Lung Health Lottery’ and urged UK governments to ensure everyone gets an early diagnosis for their lung condition. The charity also emphasised the importance of access to support and information for those suffering from poor lung health, as well as the need to tackle ‘unacceptably high rates’ of air pollution and smoking.

Sarah MacFadyen, head of policy & external affairs at Asthma + Lung UK, said community pharmacists have a vital role in helping people give up smoking and providing basic care to those living with lung conditions such as asthma.

‘Community pharmacies are often on the frontline and need to be recognised as an important resource at a time when health services are stretched,’ Ms MacFadyen said. ‘Previous research from the Taskforce for Lung Health found 99% of the most deprived communities live within a 20-minute walk of their local community pharmacy.

‘A significant proportion of people with asthma or COPD are not accessing the crucial care and support they need to avoid a potentially life-threatening asthma attack or exacerbation.

‘That’s why we value the important work that every pharmacist does to help members of their community access the important health advice they need,’ Ms MacFadyen added.