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Last Updated:  Friday, 7 March, 2003, 14:23 GMT
Call to tackle lung disease
Lung X-ray
A third of UK cases are in the UK
The British Lung Foundation (BLF) is calling for greater recognition of a severe lung condition that disproportionately affects Scots.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) commonly affects smokers, but also those who used to work in heavy industry such as coal mining or weaving mills.

COPD includes conditions like severe bronchitis and emphysema and a third of all cases in the UK are in Scotland.

But the BLF said it has become a forgotten illness.

Although many cases are smokers, a significant proportion are also a legacy of Scotland's industrial past.

Death rate

The condition can be the result of breathing in irritants such as coal dust or chlorine.

Recent figures suggest more than 4,000 people die from COPD every year.

In the mid-nineties the death rate for Scottish women was the highest in the industrialised world.

Dr Kenneth Anderson
Dr Anderson is highlighting the condition
Doctors fear that the Scottish Executive has been slow to tackle the problem and patients have had to struggle with out-of-date oxygen equipment.

The BLF's Dr Kenneth Anderson said: "Patients are very tolerant and tend not to say too much.

"They are beginning to recognise that perhaps the services should be available to them.

"I would like to make sure that through the British Lung Foundation we make patients more aware and government more aware."

It is also suggested that more emphasis should be put on the benefits of exercise to keep the lungs healthy, rather than just as a way to lose weight.

An executive spokesperson said: "The Scottish Executive is planning to provide portable oxygen on GP prescription to all patients who can benefit from it and are currently in discussion with appropriate clinicians and suppliers to address the clinical assessment criteria, and associated supply and safety issues.

"Whilst this scoping work is taking longer than planned, we remain committed to providing patients with portable oxygen on GP prescription.

"This process of consideration will be completed soon and we hope to be able to produce draft guidelines in March."

Eleanor Bradford reports
"Thousands of Scots have been left with long-term lung damage."

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