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Setting the scene for a new Taskforce for Lung Health

The first in a series of updates from Dr Penny Woods, Chief Executive, British Lung Foundation

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

No one reading this will need any persuading that lung health needs to be a greater priority. Despite one in five of us having been diagnosed with a respiratory condition, and countless more affected through caring for loved ones, funding, awareness and outcomes lag far behind other major disease areas.

Despite some world leading treatments and our committed workforce, the UK still has one of the worst death rates from respiratory disease anywhere in the developed world. And the current flu season only shows how respiratory illness can intensify the wider pressures faced by the health service.

We have worked with colleagues across the respiratory sector who all agree that what we need is a new national plan for England, in line with the cancer and mental health strategies.
Dr Penny Woods

We know that we have examples of good practice all across the country, from lung screening pilots to breathlessness clinics to COPD rapid response teams. Respiratory Futures is playing an invaluable role in sharing this evidence and learning.

But if we are going to drive the improvements that patients deserve, there is more work to do. We have worked with colleagues across the respiratory sector who all agree that what we need is a new national plan for England, in line with the cancer and mental health strategies.

We have brought together the first ever Taskforce for Lung Health to develop this. Made up of patients, professionals and charities, with input from industry, the taskforce will consider all the best available evidence and set out a new, five year strategy to improve the nation’s lung health.

At the same time, we hope to work together to mobilise patients, professionals and the public to make the case to the government and to NHS England that respiratory health affects us all and they need to take it more seriously.

The taskforce will be calling for evidence across the patient pathway – looking at prevention, diagnosis, treatment and medicines, management, and end of life – starting now, January 2018. We hope to hear from as wide a range of experts as possible about the best policy and service interventions we should consider recommending.

Respiratory Futures will be updated with all the information about how to get involved. We hope that this process will bring together the whole respiratory sector to bring about real, lasting change for our lung health.


The first Taskforce call out is for evidence linked to the prevention and diagnosis of lung disease. This will run from 14th February and throughout March 2018. You can find out more about the Taskforce for Lung Health, including its guidance notes for evidence submissions, by visiting

Contributors to the Taskforce for Lung Health

The Taskforce comprises Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Respiratory Care, Association of Respiratory Nurse Specialists, Asthma UK, British Geriatrics Society, British Thoracic Society, Cystic Fibrosis Trust, Primary Care Respiratory Society, Public Health England, Respiratory Futures, RightCare, Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, Royal College of Anaesthetists, Royal College of Emergency Medicine, Royal College of GPs, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Royal College of Physicians, and Royal College of Surgeons.

Dr Penny Woods, Chief Executive, British Lung Foundation

Penny Woods qualified as a doctor in 1987 and has an MA from Cambridge University and MBA from INSEAD.

She has many years’ experience in the healthcare sector working as a management consultant for clients including governments, multi-national companies, NHS organisations and private healthcare providers. She spent seven years in a number of senior roles at BTG plc, and before joining the BLF she was chief executive of the Picker Institute Europe.

Penny is passionate about working on behalf of patients, from personal and family experience of COPD, asthma, obstructive sleep apnoea and motor neurone disease.

You can follow Penny on Twitter at @blfpenny.