Saturday, 2 March 2024
Saturday, 2 March 2024

Asthma + Lung UK announces the appointment of its new chief executive

Leading lung charity Asthma + Lung UK has named Sarah Sleet as its new chief executive.

Sarah will move into her new position after five years as the chief executive of Crohn’s & Colitis UK, and prior to that, almost 13 years heading up Coeliac UK.

She replaces her predecessor Sarah Woolnough who left Asthma + Lung UK in December to join The King’s Fund as its new chief executive.

With Sarah Sleet at the helm, the charity will continue its ambitious plan to make lung health a national priority by advocating for improved diagnosis and care for the millions of people in this country who live with asthma, COPD, and other lung conditions. It will also work tirelessly to reduce respiratory-related emergency admissions whilst campaigning for more effective measures to tackle air pollution and increase funding for vital research.

Tamara Ingram OBE, chair of the board of trustees at Asthma + Lung UK, said:

“I am really excited to start working with Sarah so we can build on the charity’s legacy of campaigning, outstanding care, and inspiring research. She comes to Asthma + Lung UK with an impressive breadth of experience across the charity sector and health and patient groups, including government advisory, research, and healthcare professional bodies.”

“Sarah’s experience of fighting for better diagnosis and raising awareness of little understood, and sometimes stigmatised conditions, will help transform the lives of people battling with breathlessness.”

Sarah Sleet, the new chief executive of Asthma + Lung UK, said:

“I am delighted to be joining Asthma + Lung UK, and I look forward to playing a pivotal role in transforming the nation’s lung health. Lung disease is the third biggest killer in this country, but it isn’t taken seriously enough – and that needs to change. With an election looming, now is the perfect time to push for better for the millions of people living with a lung condition in this country.”

“It is shocking that we have the worst death rate for lung disease in practically the whole of Europe and that respiratory health is such an uneven playing field – with someone living in poverty seven times more likely to die from their lung condition. Meanwhile, funding for respiratory research remains pitifully low, and air pollution now contributes to 43,000 premature deaths a year.

“For far too long, lung health has been side lined and under resourced. I am passionately committed to improving the lives of people who struggle daily with breathlessness as all too often, they are left feeling forgotten, scared and alone.”

As well as her strong background in charity stewardship, Sarah has considerable expertise across public health, strategy, communications, and research. During her time at Crohn’s & Colitis UK, the charity provided hope and invaluable support to people with inflammatory bowel disease when the pandemic hit. Afterwards, Sarah helped to spearhead a new strategy, whilst increasing the charity’s income and influence. Since then, Crohn’s & Colitis UK has worked hard to break taboos around bowel disease, bringing conditions like Crohn’s and colitis to the public consciousness. It recently launched a provocative public awareness campaign to alert younger people to tell-tale symptoms, called Cut The Crap: Get Checked For Crohn’s and Colitis in a bid to improve diagnosis rates and give people access to life-changing treatment.

Asthma + Lung UK is in the second year of a five-year strategy to increase public awareness of lung conditions, to improve diagnosis delays and to reduce emergency admissions for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It is committed to tripling public funding for lung research to £150 million each year, whilst reducing the number of deaths linked to exposure to air pollution and improving care for the 12 million people in this country who will develop a lung condition over their lifetime.

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