£3.2 billion cost of undiagnosed COPD

Nearly three million people in the UK have undiagnosed COPD, which is costing the NHS a potential £3.2 billion a year, a major report claims today.

The report by the British Lung Foundation calls for increased awareness of COPD and for GPs to diagnose COPD earlier, particularly in areas of high deprivation.

UK prevalence figures for 2006/7 indicated that 1.7 per cent (1,020,000) of the UK population has COPD.

But research has since suggested that the true figure could be as high as 4 per cent (2.4 million), a figure considerably lower than the latest findings.

Using hospital admissions data and COPD GP surgery registrations data from the DoH, the report reveals the top COPD ‘hotspots’ in the UK.

Glasgow was found to be the area with the highest level of undiagnosed COPD, followed by Lanarkshire, Liverpool and Hull.

Four of the top 10 COPD hotspots are found in the North East of England, with South Tyneside having the highest proportion of people at risk of hospitalisation with COPD in the UK.

The report concludes that given that the cost difference between treating mild and severe COPD is £1,150 per person, the total annual cost for the NHS for missing the 2.8 million cases of undiagnosed COPD will reach £3.2 billion.

sanjay.tanday@haymarket.com

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