People living in places such as Blackburn and Darwen, Liverpool and Salford are among the most likely in England to be admitted to hospital in an emergency, and die from lung conditions, according to new analysis.
The charity, Asthma and Lung UK, looked at deaths and hospital admissions for people suffering conditions such as asthma, pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a condition which is mostly caused by smoking.
Knowsley topped the rankings as having the highest rates of emergency hospital admissions and deaths for lung conditions in the whole of England. Of all 549,349 deaths in England in 2020/21, around 9% were due to respiratory causes, of which most were down to pneumonia and COPD.
Around a third of all hospital admissions each year are due to respiratory conditions.
Analysis of data by the charity – excluding specific deaths from lung cancer and admissions for lung cancer – shows that Knowsley, Salford, Blackpool and Manchester in the ten worst ranking places with the highest rates of emergency hospital admissions and deaths for lung conditions in the UK.
Meanwhile, places including York, Bracknell Forest, Barnet, Kensington and Chelsea, and West Sussex had the lowest rates.
The charity said there is a North-South divide when it comes to poor lung health, with the North West in particular having higher death rates and hospital admissions for lung problems.
It said some of the biggest issues are in regions with high levels of deprivation and also higher levels of air pollution. Increased smoking rates in more deprived areas also play a role.
Asthma and Lung UK has launched an End the Lung Health Lottery campaign to highlight what it says is the patchy care of people with lung conditions.
It is calling on the Government to tackle health inequalities, saying Blackpool has a death rate from lung conditions which is more than two times higher than more affluent areas such as Richmond in London.
Sarah Woolnough, chief executive of the charity, said: “It’s appalling that people across the UK are struggling to breathe, are being rushed to hospital in an emergency and that so many are dying avoidably from their lung conditions.
“We know that people in more deprived areas are more likely to have worse lung health, often with no choice but to live in poorer quality housing, and more polluted areas, with higher smoking rates. We need to tackle the lung health lottery head on.
“To do better, UK governments must address stark inequality in lung health and ensure the NHS has the resources to support its dedicated staff.
“People at risk of or living with lung conditions can’t simply move to improve their lung health, it is health inequality we must battle.
“Governments must ensure people living with a lung condition get an early diagnosis, have help quitting smoking, can breathe good quality air and receive the right support and treatment to manage their lung condition well.”
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