Today at the British Thoracic Society’s (BTS) winter conference a new report was launched that describes how the NHS is responding to the TB situation in England – where there were nearly 8,000 cases in 2008.
The report is based on an extensive survey of 112 Primary Care Trusts across England. It follows up from an earlier survey and corresponding report published in 2007, and highlights the progress that has been made as well as the gaps that still exist in England’s TB response.
Marc Lipman of the BTS commented: “The survey highlights some encouraging and real progress in the funding, planning and delivery of NHS services to tackle TB – but we’ve got some way to go yet. In the 1970s we possibly became a little too complacent about TB. We should never make that mistake again.”
Importantly, the report highlights that the response to TB is all too often predominantly medical, even though because most TB sufferers in the UK are from vulnerable populations many other support services are often needed to help them back on their feet.
Mike Mandelbaum put it succinctly when he said: “…we need closer and more imaginative partnerships between clinical professionals, health educators, and, crucially, the communities who are most affected by TB, together with the third sector organisations that support them.”
Aaron Oxley of RESULTS UK put the NHS’s response into a global context: “It is humbling to realise that even with the resources available to the NHS, TB is still a very real problem in England. When considering developing countries, many of which face much higher burdens of TB with far fewer resources, it only emphasises how the battle to beat TB has to be based on a coordinated response, both locally and globally.”
The report was commissioned by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Global Tuberculosis, The British Thoracic Society, TB Alert, and The Royal College of Nursing. Copies of the report are available from the APPG-TB or the BTS press office.