“The battle for breath campaign”

Hello everybody. On August 9th I contacted my local MP, who also happens to be the Chancellor of the Exchequer, about “The battle for breath campaign”. I thought you might like to see his reply which arrived yesterday.

Thank you for contacting me about lung disease.

There are currently no plans to set up a taskforce on lung health. However, the Government has instructed NHS England to achieve a significant reduction in avoidable deaths by 2020. Reducing premature mortality rates among patients with lung disease will play an important part in this. There are a range of initiatives being taken forward that will support reducing mortality rates amongst patients with lung disease.

Early diagnosis of lung disease is important, as timely treatment can help slow down its progression. In March 2016, the NHS concluded a national pilot programme which aimed to improve speed and accuracy of diagnosis in patients experiencing the symptom of breathlessness, test new models of care in various settings, and improve the outcomes of patients experiencing breathlessness.

Furthermore, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recently updated its advice on the management of acute and chronic breathlessness, including the identification of patients who may require emergency admission.

NHS England's National Clinical Director for Respiratory Disease, Professor Mike Morgan, continues to work on improving outcomes for lung disease with charities such as the British Lung Foundation. In addition, work is also being carried out on how to share best practice in order to address variation in care.

NHS England also funds the Respiratory Futures programme, which is a resource to support innovation and sharing of best practice on respiratory conditions.

A recent Be Clear on Cancer campaign focused on raising awareness of respiratory symptoms, including breathlessness or a persistent cough, which can be a symptom of lung disease. This will help support increased early identification and diagnosis of patients suffering from possible lung disease.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.


Philip Hammond

14 Replies

  • Hmm this is a stock response. I received exactly the same from my MP.

  • Hi littlepom, no surprise there really.

  • Hi

    If the Government was as keen on lung health as it is on air pollution it would ban the sale of tobacco products at the same time as the ban on diesel and petrol engines.

    For the last sixty years we have been warned about the link between smoking and lung cancer, yet here we all are, clearly campaigns don't always work.

    I don't know of any single healthy person who as read the NICE Guidlines or even know what it is.

    Early intervention is fine, but how many regarded it as just a smokers cough I will be fine. I did, wasn't diagnosed until stage three/four.

    All the various Governments over the years were quite happy to allow the convincing advertisement, they only saw a nice little earner which they still do.

    Yes they support smoking cessation with crossed fingers.

  • I had the same response. Stock reply provide by the same source, almost word for word. Not really good enough and shows the lack of representation in our "democratic" government.

  • Thanks for your interesting comments stone. When it comes to governments the bottom line is always MONEY. Very happy to collect the tax revenue from the products that are dangerous to our health but extremely reluctant to invest in health research of any kind, especially when it might have an adverse effect on the sale of products from there main downer's.

  • He makes it sound as though they're doing something! While I can only speak from the COPD perspective, they have done nothing. NICE has not updated COPD guidelines since 2010 - and those were based on research up to 2009. Several new drug classes have been introduced since then, not to mention interventions such as coils and other implants. The guidelines are now so outdated that clinicians & GP's are turning to either local guidelines or GOLD (Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease). How the chancellor thinks the NHS will be able to magically bring the respiratory death rate down I don't know. Quite apart from the general shortage of nurses/beds etc there is a huge shortage of specialist respiratory nurses and it's likely to get worse over the next few years. The ones we do have are seriously overstretched - little wonder that there are so few Pulmonary Rehab courses available and that some are being canceled due to staff shortages. It makes my blood boil. Like you, I sent a letter to my MP - her response was less than what you had, simply saying that she had passed my concerns to the DoH - although in fairness she did say that she would send me their response once she is in receipt of it (I fear she may have a long wait!).

    To anyone reading this, please don't be deterred from advocating for your lung disease at every opportunity - we need to keep on keeping on until they can't ignore us any longer. I do think though, that we require the patience of saints! LOL!

  • It makes me so cross that our government are taking 23yrs to get rid of dirty diesel & petrol cars etc. I am lucky to live in the country in that aspect but less so as I have allergy asthma (pollen) but I won't visit polluted areas because of making my condition worse with air pollution.

    I agree with you Pippa, I feel very passionate about making lung disease visible to others. I too have signed various petitions, campaigns, taking photos & shared them on social media. I do feel at times that I am quite alone in this process on a local level so this site is brilliant at bringing us together.

    Can folk get behind the next campaign 'Big Breakfast, sharing on social media & press I wonder??

  • Thank you for your very eloquent reply Pippa. If it's ok with you, I'd like to use the gist of your post in a reply to the Hon [hmmm] Mr Hammond.

  • Here is intresting read thorax.bmj.com/content/thor...

  • That was back in 1985 ... and we haven't progressed much since then. Drug companies don't seem to be interested in much other than producing the next inhaler & while there have been improvements in the method of delivery, time a dose lasts for, etc. theres been little serious progress. To put it in context - it was a year after that letter you linked to was published that the AIDS TV ads came out -1986 - remember- the ones with the tombstones? AIDS seemed to come out of nowhere, no one knew anything about it, research had to start from scratch .... but money was thrown at it & masses of research & investment has resulted in huge progress. HIV is more like a long term condition now. My own theory as to why funding was so forthcoming is that people were scared - actually not just people - but wealthy people especially movie stars, music & culture industries, jet setting partying politicians. Had it been just the Glasgow junkies dying of it, no one would have dug deep into their wealthy pockets. And so it is applies to COPD. It's not just that it's perceived as a smokers disease, but it's a disease of the poor. This stands true in that it is disproportionately the poorest sections of our society that get it, as well as the poorest countries in the world that get it. It's often referred to as 'the poverty factor'. It is quite rare for middle class or wealthy people to get COPD - even if they're heavy smokers. Had the middle & upper classes been falling like flies then by now COPD would have had a cure - or something close to it.

  • It is quite strange that they have had no great advancements in Copd/Emphysema. It seems alot of research is repeated. I spoke with my physician about this, he agreed. I am a biology/medical geek, all my life. I say if to you can do open heart surgery and rewire, mend, add to the heart, why not the lungs?? They are both two organs that "aren't" suppose to regenerate, yet they find in tests they can. A cure or a advancement that stops progression, should have been found years ago. Just my thoughts. I do believe it is a money making disease for many, many companies, so there is a lack of motivation from the pharmaceutical companies. It's a shame. I think the British Lung Foundation is the only hope for a cure or any advancements.


  • No offence to the BLF but there is only a miniscule amount of money/research through them as: 1) They can't spend what they haven't got and 2) Any money they have has to be spread over the running of the organisation/wages/ Informative publications/ running a helpline etc. Then any remaining money for research has to be shared around as they represent Asthma, Lung Cancer, Sarcoidosis, Bronchiectasis, Mesothelioma, IPF, COPD etc. It leaves very little per disease so no serious research as in looking for a cure ever happens.

  • As a youngster many years ago, I was given a little blue inhaler containing ventolin to help with my Asthma......fast forward 40 years, I was given a little blue inhaler containing ventolin to help with my COPD. Says it all really!

  • There is no specialist team in Cornwall for COPD and just one respiratory nurse for my half of Cornwall so very rarely see them in Essex where I stayed with a friend for a while there was a COPD team, a COPD nurse assigned to me, and an oxygen specialist who came to take blood gases every 3 months and check on the oxygen prescription etc. Hammond is really in cuckoo land if he thinks he can just dictate to the NHS to reduce morality rates what a w**k**

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