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UK TB rates continue to rise

In a report published today, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global Tuberculosis has called for the introduction of national minimum standards for TB care in the UK.

The report, published jointly with the British Thoracic Society (BTS) and the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), draws on information from surveys of BTS and RCN members who work on the frontline of TB care in the UK.

The results of the surveys show frontline staff feel that while much progress has been made in the fight against TB more needs to be done if the increase in UK cases is to be reversed.

However, the report indicates that 38% of respondents in the BTS' survey have seen an increase in resources for TB services since the chief medical officer's TB Action Plan. This compares favourably to the 16% who reported this in the previous survey, performed in 2007.

The results also demonstrate the variation in service provision across the country, with national clinical guidance and policy being implemented more effectively in some areas than in others.

National Minimum Standards ensure that local primary care trusts (PCTs) and service providers are held to account over care for TB patients and ensure consistency in TB care across the country, says the report.

Julie Morgan MP, Co-chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global Tuberculosis:

"Whilst I am pleased with the advances that have been made in TB services over the past two years, this report shows that there is evidently much work left to do in ensuring that the care received by TB patients is first class. Our frontline TB staff are extremely hardworking and show such dedication to patients and their families. We must ensure that this dedication is reflected in the support given to them by local PCTs and policy makers."

Dr Peter Carter, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), says: "For a disease that was once nearly eradicated in this country to be on the rise again is deeply concerning. We need a robust solution to tackle this serious problem.

"It is vital that there are enough specially trained TB nurses, and that all nursing staff who may encounter patients with TB have adequate training and support. While there have been some promising improvements, we must not become complacent. There is an urgent need to introduce national minimum standards to prevent TB becoming an even greater problem in the UK in the future."

British Thoracic Society
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It beggars belief that TB is on the increase and children are not vaccinated, they are taken on holiday to risk areas and I can only organise BCG if they are staying for over 3 months" -  Mary Swinney, South Tyneside

"If it's on the increase why have they stopped vaccinating 15-year-olds in school?" - B Cowie, Swindon