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Times Letter from Sarah Woolnough

Sir, That people with severe conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are 2.4 times more likely to take their own lives is shocking, but as only 2 percent of publicly funded research is allocated to research into lung conditions it is sadly not surprising. People with COPD are being forgotten and left behind: more than half experience a decline in their mental health on diagnosis.

Our research indicates that not only do people struggle to get diagnosed (an estimated 46,000 people missed out on a diagnosis at the height of the pandemic), they simply do not have access to the right care and support either. Of the 1.3million people in the country with COPD, three quarters are not receiving the five fundamentals of COPD care: a self-management plan, access to pulmonary rehabilitation, help to stop smoking, management of other conditions and a guaranteed flu and pneumonia jab. At the very least we want to see patients referred for pulmonary support and given access to the peer support and psychological therapy they need so much. 

Sarah Woolnough

CEO of Asthma + Lung UK