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Doctors urge TB action

Doctors have warned that urgent action is needed to deal with rapidly rising rates of tuberculosis in the UK.

A British Thoracic Society report said tests at hostels and a prison found rates 40 per cent higher than in the general population and called for new methods and increased funding to tackle the disease.

Lung specialist Dr John Moore-Gillon of the British Thoracic Society said more than 100 nurses and 40 more specialist doctors are needed to combat the problem.

He also called for a TB target so everyone diagnosed is treated quickly and all patients are followed up until they finish their treatment.

Dr Moore-Gillon said: "We are still using the same diagnostic test we had 70 years ago and have had no new drugs for 40 years."

London has seen the sharpest growth in the UK in TB cases, with 40 per cent of the nation's 6,000 cases a year and in some areas of the capital rates are as high as the Third World. Infection rates are particularly high among the homeless.

New York suffered a similar problem with TB ten years ago and more than $1billion was spent battling the disease. Just 8 million is currently spent fighting TB in London.

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