The UK has the worst death rate for lung conditions such as asthma in western Europe, new analysis has found.  

More than 100,000 people in the UK die from conditions including asthma attacks, bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and pneumonia every year, according to charity Asthma and Lung UK. 

It comes as pharmacists are set to offer a smoking cessation service in order to address the gap in the handover between secondary care and primary care transferring the care. 

Across Europe, only Turkey has a higher respiratory death rate than the UK, analysis of most recent data shows.  

People are three times less likely to die from lung disease in Finland than in the UK, which has the lowest lung disease death rates in Europe. 

The charity said one likely cause was air pollution, which is now connected to 36,000 premature deaths each year in the UK. 

They said there was also a link to deprivation, with people in the poorest neighbourhoods seven times more likely to die of a lung condition than those in the richest areas. That could be down to greater exposure to poor-quality damp housing, other forms of air pollution and cigarette smoke. 

Action needed now

The new charity, which is an amalgamation of the British Lung Foundation and Asthma UK, described the figures as ‘shameful’ and demanded tougher clean air targets, better diagnosis and care. 

It said that lung disease has been treated like the ‘poor relation compared with other major illnesses like cancer and heart disease’. 

Lung conditions are the third biggest cause of death in the UK, despite this, only 2% of publicly funded research is spent on the area, it added. 

Sarah Woolnough, chief executive of Asthma and Lung UK said: ‘It is a national scandal that people are more likely to die from a lung condition in the UK than almost anywhere in Europe.  

‘We need urgent action now. The pandemic has brought it to people’s attention that lung conditions can and do kill and how terrifying it can be to struggle with breathlessness.’ 

The charity has called on the Government to triple investment in lung research and innovation over the next five years to at least £150 million each year and commit to much bolder clean air legal targets to protect all our lung health. 

Pharmacy smoking cessation service

This comes as some pharmacies in England are about to begin offering a smoking cessation service.  

The advanced service, which was announced last year, could begin as early as 10 March, PSNC has said.  

Patients who started their smoking cessation treatment in hospital can be referred to a participating pharmacy of their choice for continued support in the community, according to the draft service specification

The new service will involve offering patients ongoing consultations that will include the provision of behavioural support, as well as the supply of Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT).