Pembrokeshire had the most deaths from respiratory illnesses in Wales in 2021, new figures show – despite significant differences across the country.

Thousands of people die from lung conditions every year – such as flu, pneumonia and lung disease – and new analysis by the charity Asthma + Lung UK lays bare the inequality in deaths between different areas of the UK.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show there were 87 deaths from respiratory illness for every 100,000 people in Pembrokeshire – putting the area among those with the most deaths by population.

These figures have been standardised to account for age differences across different areas.

Pembrokeshire ranked first from last in Wales for deaths from lung conditions and 76th from last across the UK as a whole.

Across the UK, four of the 10 worst places for respiratory deaths are in the North West of England – with Knowsley in Merseyside topping the list with 178 deaths per 100,000 people.

Asthma + Lung UK said the Government must address the 'stark inequality' in lung health across the UK.

Sarah Woolnough, chief executive of the charity, said: “It’s appalling that people across the UK are struggling to breathe, are being rushed to hospital in an emergency and that so many are dying avoidably from their lung conditions.

She continued: "We know that people in more deprived areas are more likely to have worse lung health, often with no choice but to live in poorer quality housing, more polluted areas with higher smoking rates."

Separate figures, also from the ONS, show 12.4% of adults in Pembrokeshire are smokers – lower than the UK average of 13.3%.

"We need to tackle the lung health lottery head on," Ms Woolnough urged.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said:“We are working hard to improve lung health across the country – including by investing millions in research and backing the NHS’s targeted lung health checks programme, which aims to detect conditions including lung cancer earlier and faster.

“We’ve set ambitious clean air targets to reduce the health impacts of air pollution – ensuring reductions are made where concentrations are highest – and we’re committed to delivering on our Smokefree ambition by 2030, with smoking rates in England currently at an all-time low.

“Chronic respiratory diseases forms a significant part of our Major Conditions Strategy, which covers the six different conditions that most affect the population in England and aims to alleviate pressure on the health system and support people to live healthier lives for longer, wherever they live,” they added.