Thousands of people across the Tees Valley are suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and don’t know but could be getting help that could improve their health.
And now Stockton North Labour MP Alex Cunningham is appealing to them all ‘Love Your Lungs’, and take advantage of a lung testing drive by NHS Tees and the British Lung Foundation. COPD kills around 25,000 people a year in England and Wales, but the progress of the disease can be slowed if diagnosed at an early stage.
The campaign is aiming to raise awareness of COPD while offering free lung testing for those who smoke and are over the age of 35. Those who are diagnosed with COPD will be offered tools to help them self-manage their condition, as well as provide them with reliable health information. The campaign will involve 89 GP surgeries in the NHS Tees area.
“COPD is the fifth biggest killer in the UK, with the North East seeing some of the highest rates in the country. In spite of this, many people are unaware they have COPD.
“I welcome the ‘Love Your Lungs’ campaign as an effective way of reaching those on Teesside who are living with undiagnosed COPD, so that they can get the appropriate treatment and care they need.”
Dr Victoria Ononeze, Public Health Specialist at NHS Tees, said:
“The Free Lung Check will help to implement a systematic approach for GP practices to invite and screen patients who are considered at risk of developing COPD. This will help ensure that more people are diagnosed at an early stage of disease and provided support to properly manage the condition in order to slow down the progression of disease and improve quality of life.”
Steven Wibberley, Director of British Lung Foundation Services, said:
“It is estimated that around 2.2 million people in the UK are living with undiagnosed COPD. Early diagnosis is key in making sure that a patient can go on to manage their condition, and minimise the progression of the COPD.
“You need better awareness in order to achieve earlier diagnosis, and I am confident that ‘Love Your Lungs’ will have a very positive impact on respiratory health on Teesside.”