THE British Lung Foundation is searching for people to get involved in a new support group for Huddersfield.
The charity wants to set up a Breathe Easy support group in town, for people suffering respiratory conditions.
There used to be a Breathe Easy group at St Luke’s Hospital at Crosland Moor, but it closed three years ago because its voluntary leaders became too unwell to continue.
Now, the BLF has volunteers on board to resurrect the group and wants to hear from people who would be interested in using the group or helping to run it.
Margaret Tate, a development officer with the BLF, said: “We are looking to publicise the fact that we are looking to set up a group and we would like to hear from anyone who’d like to get involved.”
Breathe Easy groups are the BLF’s support network for patients with respiratory problems. They provide a monthly meeting place for sufferers, who sometimes find it difficult to get out and socialise because of their illness.
The group also helps educate people, with talks from guest speakers. Members have the chance to get involved in BLF’s campaigns to improve medical services for respiratory patients.
The Huddersfield group should be up and running early next year.
Margaret says she expects there will be a demand for its services. A recent BLF survey showed that Kirklees ranks highly for the number of people admitted to hospital suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Out of 192 areas, Kirklees Primary Care Trust was placed 59th for the number of patients who had to be hospitalised with COPD. The disease is the second most common cause of emergency hospital admissions and is Britain’s fifth biggest killer disease.
It is the general term used to describe conditions such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
It is often linked to smoking, exposure to dust or pollution and is more prevalent among people living in deprived areas. The BLF estimates that around 2.8 million people in the UK are suffering from the disease, but many have not been diagnosed and had access to early treatment.
Yorkshire Euro MP Linda McAvan has called on the European Parliament to raise awareness of the condition and to push for improved access to diagnosis and treatment.
She said: “It is terrifying to think that COPD rates are so high in my own constituency and rising around the world, yet most people have never heard of the condition.”
The BLF urges anyone aged over 35 who smokes, or has smoked, to visit their GP for a lung test if they are suffering shortness of breath or a persistent cough.
For more information about the BLF, visit www.lunguk.org, or for more information about the Huddersfield Breathe Easy group contact 0191 2630276.