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Leading local health charity seeks support for new Respiratory Manifesto

19 Sep 2023

Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke (NICHS) is launching its newly developed Respiratory Manifesto, “Making It Easy For All Of Us To Breathe”, today in the Great Hall at Stormont.

The charity, which was formed in the 1940s to address the Tuberculosis health crisis has evolved and adapted in the period since then and is now at the forefront of supporting people living with chest, heart and stroke conditions and striving for a Northern Ireland free from these illnesses.

Eugene Reid, Policy and Engagement Officer at NICHS says; “Sadly, respiratory conditions continue to be the third largest killer in Northern Ireland, with 4 deaths every day and over 40,400 hospital admissions every year.”

“We have worked with our charity’s service users, supporters and governance board to develop the Manifesto. It will be presented to politicians, policy makers, physicians and the press to highlight the burden of respiratory disease in Northern Ireland, but more importantly, to call for the introduction of health policies and changes in legislation that will lead to improvements in the care and treatment of chest illnesses.”

Northern Ireland has been without a Services Framework for Respiratory Health and Wellbeing since 2018. The previous framework had 56 standards to improve respiratory services in NI. These were not delivered, and services did not improve due to lack of political and health service leadership and investment.

Eugene explains; “Amongst the priority areas for improvement are the introduction of a new lung strategy, early detection and diagnosis of respiratory problems, equal and appropriate access to the best medicines, and a new and ambitious tobacco and E-cigarettes control strategy. We hope that political parties and health policy makers will support our Manifesto asks to improve lung health.”

At the Stormont event, as well as presentations from Chief Executive of NICHS, Declan Cunnane, there will be chance to hear from one of the charity’s service users and to avail of a summary of the Manifesto as well as the printed document.

Eugene continues; “Northern Ireland urgently needs a new Lung Health Strategy and clinical leadership to protect and improve lung health, making it easy for all of us to breathe. We are delighted that Ms Sophie Lusby, Assistant Director of Commissioning at the Strategic Planning and Performance Group (SPPG) and NI Respiratory Lead, will also present at the event, outlining the NI Respiratory Plan which her colleagues are currently working on.”

Staff from NICHS will be outlining next steps and will be making public, for the very first-time, data that has been collected on the public perception of the dangers associated with E-cigarettes and vaping. A recent opinion poll survey carried out by the charity reveals startling statistics on how individuals are highly concerned with the possible damage that can be caused to lung and cardiovascular health whilst using E-cigarettes.

To find out more about Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke’s campaigning work visit