The UK has the second highest rate of TB among Western European countries and rates are nearly five times higher than in the US. In 2013, there were 7,290 TB cases reported in England, an incidence of 13.5 cases per 100,000 of the population.
In announcing the new programme, Public Health Minister Jane Ellison said: “This strategy is a significant step forward in helping us to control and reduce cases of TB, which still affects thousands of people in England every year.
“It will target those most vulnerable to TB by improving access to screening, diagnostic and treatment services as well as innovative outreach programmes such as the ‘Find & Treat’ mobile health units. Last year I saw the first of these fantastic units at work and am delighted that the team have now launched their second mobile health unit.”
PHE and NHS England have worked with key stakeholders to develop this strategy for England. The 10-point action plan which will include improving access and early diagnosis; better treatment, diagnostic and care services; tackling TB in under-served groups and improved screening and treatment of new migrants for latent TB infection to bring about a year-on-year reduction in TB cases.
The figures are in marked contrast to the US, Germany and the Netherlands which have all seen consistent reductions by using concerted approaches to TB prevention, treatment and control. If current trends continue, England will have more TB cases than the whole of the US within two years. Drug resistant TB is also an increasing problem in England with cases of multi-drug resistant (MDR) TB increasing from 28 cases reported in 2000 to 68 in 2013.
Consigning TB to the past
Professor Paul Cosford, Director for Health Protection and Medical Director at PHE, added: “TB should be consigned to the past and yet it is occurring in England at higher rates than most of Western Europe. This situation must be reversed.
"While many local areas in England have taken major steps to tackle TB, there is still unacceptable variation in the quality of clinical and public health measures across England.
"Combatting TB is a national priority for PHE and this new programme will mark the start of our five-year plan to make a real difference.”
In England, TB is concentrated in large urban centres, with ‘hot spots’ concentrated in London, Leicester, Birmingham, Luton, Manchester and Coventry. TB clinics in London manage more cases a year that those in all other western European capital cities put together."
The TB strategy was developed by PHE and NHS England following a 3 month consultation which included responses from over 100 different stakeholders. Other key partners actively involved in developing the strategy include the British Thoracic Society, TB Alert, the Local Government Association, the Department of Health, the Association of Directors of Public Health and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). PHE will provide annual reports on progress across a suite of indicators relevant to the key areas of action.
To read the full Action Plan go to www.gov.uk/phe