A report by PIF member Asthma + Lung UK paints a worrying picture of delayed diagnosis, substandard care and a disproportionate impact of inequalities on people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). 

Delayed Diagnosis and Unequal Care is the charity's second annual COPD report.

It outlines the findings of a survey of more than 6,500 people with COPD in the UK which took place from January to April 2022.  

Key findings

  • Almost one in four people are waiting five years or more for a diagnosis
  • One in eight people waited more than a decade
  • Fewer than one in five people with COPD received the full package of basic care recommended by NICE, including the ‘five fundamentals’ of COPD care
  • Provision of the five fundamentals has dropped in every nation – down 7% UK-wide from 2021
  • Someone from the poorest 10% of households is more than two-and-a-half times more likely to have COPD than someone from the most affluent 10% of households

What happens now?

As a result of the findings, Asthma + Lung UK is calling for a series of changes to enable faster and more accurate diagnosis of COPD and to tackle the impact of social inequalities. They include:

  • An urgent increase in availability of quality-assured spirometry across the system, to at least pre-pandemic levels
  • The implementation of a pre-diagnosis breathlessness pathway to improve speed and accuracy of diagnosis within primary care UK-wide
  • A public awareness campaign in every UK nation 
  • Prioritisation of lung health in all inequalities and national health strategies
  • COPD care and treatment targeted at people who are most at risk

Read the report in full via the Asthma + Lung UK website here.