The number of attendances at Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments in England for lung illnesses has almost doubled over the last 7 years, according to a data review by the British Thoracic Society (BTS).
The figures show that hospital admissions with a primary diagnosis associated of respiratory diseases have steadily increased since 2011-2012. In particular, between 2011-2012 and 2017-2018, the number of admissions for influenza and pneumonia have increased by 70%.
The BTS reports that between 2016-2017 and 2017-2018, the number of A&E attendances for respiratory conditions increased by 31%, amounting to an additional 216,144 attendances.
Respiratory conditions are now the third most common primary diagnosis in A&E. In December 2016, there were 32,492 admissions resulting from A&E attendances for respiratory disease – which is over 3 times the average (10,652 cases) for the 20 most common presentations leading to admission.
The data show the dramatic impact of the winter months on the number of people being admitted to hospital after presenting to A&E with respiratory problems, with the number of respiratory hospital admissions via A&E almost doubled between August and December 2016.
The Society is calling on the Government and NHS to break the winter cycle and look beyond short-term national funding injections. It has set out a 4-point plan aimed at reducing the burden of respiratory disease during Winter.
Among the actions recommended is the urgent need to address current shortages in the lung specialist workforce, the BTS is calling for an additional 100 respiratory speciality training posts to be created over the next 5 years.