Charity hits out at the lack of support for those suffering lung conditions
A charity has criticised the lack of vital services for those suffering from lung conditions.
Asthma and Lung UK Scotland contacted health boards across the country to find out how many people were on the list for pulmonary rehabilitation services and how long the wait for assistance is.
A freedom of information request from the charity found to NHS Forth Valley revealed its average waiting time is 12 to 18 months – although the health board added that “patients are assessed and more urgent referrals are prioritised and seen sooner”.
Only seven of Scotland’s 14 regional health boards provided information on pulmonary rehabilitation to Asthma and Lung UK Scotland, with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, the country’s largest health board, revealing it has 447 patients currently waiting for this.
Meanwhile, NHS Lothian had 594 patients waiting as of December 2022, with an average waiting time of 26.9 weeks – although it reported a wait of 76.9 weeks in the third quarter of 2021.
And in NHS Grampian, the average waiting time has gone from 12 weeks in 2019 to 32 weeks in 2022.
Meanwhile, NHS Highland said that while its average wait was 4.5 months last year, there had been a wait of 29 months in 2020, when services were impacted by Covid.
The health board said that, during this time, patients had been “offered one-to-one and online classes but opted to wait”.
Asthma and Lung UK Scotland said that two years after the launch of the Scottish Government’s respiratory care action plan, many patients were facing long waits for help.
It comes as the charity stressed the vital role such services can provide, with pulmonary rehabilitation working to improve muscle strength – thus helping patients to breathe more easily and also potentially reducing the risk of emergency hospital admissions.
Joseph Carter, head of Asthma and Lung UK Scotland, said: “Scotland has one of the highest respiratory death rates in Europe and although we are grateful that we have a national action plan, we are concerned about the lack of progress.
“This can be seen in the unacceptable wait for, or indeed lack of, vital respiratory rehabilitation for thousands of people with a lung disease across the country.”