Press release

PHE and NHS England launch joint £11.5m strategy to wipe out TB

10-point action plan aims to eradicate tuberculosis across England.

Public Health England (PHE) and NHS England have today (19 January 2015) announced an £11.5 million investment as part of a collaborative initiative to decrease TB cases and ultimately eliminate TB as a public health problem in England.

In 2013, there were 7,290 TB cases reported in England, an incidence of 13.5 cases per 100,000 of the population. The UK has the second highest rate of TB among Western European countries and rates are nearly 5 times higher than in the US.

Jane Ellison, Public Health minister 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 launched their second mobile health unit earlier today.

Professor Paul Cosford, Director for Health Protection and Medical Director at PHE, said:

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 today’s announcement will mark the start of our 5-year plan to make a real difference.

PHE and NHS England have worked with 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 2 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.

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.

Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS England’s Medical Director said:

This is an important strategy which is why NHS England is committing £10 million towards tackling the high rates of TB incidence in England. This money will focus on TB screening and any subsequent treatment. Our goal is to eliminate TB as a public health problem.

The TB strategy was developed by PHE and NHS England following a 3 month consultation which included responses from over 100 different stakeholders. Other 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 areas of action.

Notes to editors

  1. Collaborative Tuberculosis Strategy for England 2015-2020.
  2. Data sources: For UK data see the PHE Tuberculosis in the UK 2014 report. For European data, see the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control Tuberculosis surveillance and monitoring in Europe 2013 report. For US data, see the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Trends in Tuberculosis 2012 report.
  3. In the UK, TB continues to disproportionately affect the most deprived communities in England, with 70% of all TB cases coming from the 40% most deprived areas. Most TB cases occur among specific risk groups, such as people with close links to countries with a high TB burden (often settled migrants from such countries, who experience reactivation of latent TB infection acquired many years previously), people with social risk factors such as homelessness, a history of imprisonment or problem drug or alcohol use, and older people.
  4. For more information about TB please visit the PHE website and NHS Choices
  5. PHE exists to protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing and reduce health inequalities. It does this through advocacy, partnerships, world-class science, knowledge and intelligence, and the delivery of specialist public health services. PHE is an operationally autonomous executive agency of the Department of Health. Follow us on Twitter @PHE_uk

PHE press office: National Infection Service

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Published 19 January 2015