Britain fiddles as disease spreads

April 5, 1996

Aisling Irwin reports on the Tuberculosis 2000 conference at the Royal Society of Medicine. The United Kingdom urgently needs a TB action plan - yet a government working group has not reported 20 months after its first meeting, the conference heard.

Ian McCartney, former Labour front bench spokesman on the national health service and now shadow minister of state for employment, said: "There have been a range of districts in the UK taking decisions which are contrary to good practice. There's a huge gulf in awareness among primary health carers of the symptoms of TB."

The conference heard other evidence of poor diagnosis of TB, which has led to avoidable deaths and to other members of a sufferer's family being unnecessarily infected.

Mr McCartney, who had tuberculosis a few years ago, called for the report to be released as soon as possible: "Once it is out we can demand from all parliamentarians support for the report. It can give us the ability to structure our response to TB."

He also called for more UK funding for research into TB. He said that UK research funders had not woken up to the new threat of tuberculosis.

The Department of Health said that the report would be published within weeks.

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