Public Health England is calling on health care professional to increase their understanding of tuberculosis (TB).
England has the one of the highest rates of TB in Europe, with 5,758 cases diagnosed last year.
The number of cases in England has declined for the fourth consecutive year and PHE is keen to reduce the burden of TB. It said the disease is one of the barometers of health inequalities and has issued guidance to help professionals learn more about the diease.
Last year the rate was 20.5 per 100,000 people living in the most deprived areas of England, compared with just 3.6 per cent per 100,000 in the least deprived places.
London has 40 per cent of the cases – one of the highest rates in a European capital city.
PHE said healthcare professionals in high risk areas need to learn more about the incidence of TB, its symptoms and diagnosis and where to refer people for treatment.
Its guidance highlights a range of learning tools, including a free e-learning course for all healthcare professionals it developed with the charity TB Alert and the Royal College of General Practitioners.
TB Alert has also produced a TB nurse slideset to help them run awareness raising sessions for other healthcare workers along with other online tools.
PHE urged people to use the tools “to increase their understanding of the disease, its diagnosis and treatment.”
It said that early diagnosis is key and treatment can be under £1,000 per patient for drug sensitive TB.
However more than a quarter of patients face waits of over four months for treatment after their first symptoms appear.
PHE called on TB clinical teams to help educate their colleagues about the illness.
It also urged Clinical Commissioning Groups to “support TB awareness raising among healthcare workers by utilising the resources from TB Alert.”
It also wants CCGs to commission prevention work, focussing on high-risk groups and appropriate access to services, treatment and support so patients finish their treatment.