More die of lung diseases in Wandsworth than national average - 4,000 remain undiagnosed

Wandsworth Guardian: In Wandsworth premature and overall COPD death rates are 'significantly higher' than the national average In Wandsworth premature and overall COPD death rates are 'significantly higher' than the national average

More people are dying of lung diseases in Wandsworth than the national average, and thousands remain undiagnosed with potentially fatal conditions according to health bosses.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), an umbrella term for a number of respiratory diseases, make it hard for people to breathe by narrowing their airways.

A report by the doctors in charge of the borough’s healthcare, Wandsworth Clinical Commissioning Group (WCCG), reveals Wandsworth’s emergency COPD admission rates are significantly higher than the England average and premature and overall death rates, caused by COPD, are also significantly higher than the national average.

Today the WCCG board are set to discuss the report which reveals there is an estimated 4,000 people in Wandsworth with potentially fatal undiagnosed COPD.

The NHS identifies smoking as the main cause of COPD, but links have recently been made to the effects of pollution.

Wandsworth Guardian:

The Council has a range of services to help smokers quit

Just last week medical experts warned pollution could trigger health problems after Saharan dust settled in south London and people with lung conditions could have their conditions worsened by the crisis.

Dr Keith Prowse, honorary medical advisor to the British Lung Foundation, spoke during the crisis and said there was reasonably good evidence from epidemiological studies to show pollution does appear to give a higher incidence of chest problems be they asthma, COPD, or other. Research into the impact is ongoing.

A survey of Clapham Junction shop workers revealed three quarters are concerned about the effect air pollution has on their health.

The Battersea Society, supported by London Sustainability Exchange, continued their fight against pollution on Friday, March 28, by speaking to people and distributing diffusion tubes around the area to monitor pollution levels.

Wandsworth Guardian:

The smog over London last week led warnings from experts that it could prompt attacks of COPD or make conditions worse. Pic by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

An air monitoring survey carried out by the society allegedly found particle matter five times the European Union limits, readings of Nitrogen Dioxide double the legal limit and dangerous levels of lead.

However, the science was carried out with hand-held devices and over a much shorter time period than official investigations which sometimes take many months.

The society is working to apply for funding for a number of projects including painting the underside of Falcon Road railway bridge to reduce nitrogen dioxide pollution and establishing an air pollution monitoring station at Clapham Junction.

Previous studies of air pollution in the borough have revealed a number of areas suffer from very high levels of NO2, including Putney, Wandsworth Town and St John's Hill.

Wandsworth Guardian:

The Battersea Society are concerned about air pollution in Wandsworth 

A council spokesman said Wandsworth’s COPD emergency admission rate was the third lowest in inner London but admitted it was above the national average.

He said: "NHS figures confirm the vast majority of COPD cases can be linked back to smoking or passive smoking so helping people overcome their addiction is the key to prevention.

"In partnership with the NHS, we offer a range of support services to help local people get free from cigarettes and free from COPD later in life."

Wandsworth Guardian: Dr Nicola Jones, chairman of Wandsworth CCG

Dr Nicola Jones the chairwoman of WCCG said they were proud that in the last year they helped put 4,800 smokers in Wandsworth on the path to a smoke-free future.

She said they were also working to ensure people got the right treatment services at the right time and added: "We are doing more to ensure lung conditions are looked after in the community wherever possible so patients are treated early before they become so ill they need hospital treatment."

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