Respiratory deaths: call for action
The death rate from respiratory problems in Northern Ireland is among the worst in Europe, a watchdog said.
Each year over 10,000 patients are admitted to hospital for breathing-related conditions including bronchitis and emphysema.
Although praising the enthusiasm and skills of specialists, the health service regulator said there must be equal access to services across Northern Ireland.
The Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) said: "Some 2,000 people will die from a respiratory condition, accounting for around one in seven of all deaths."
Belfast health trust, the largest, is well-resourced but others are not as well staffed and there are problems integrating different specialties, the report found.
Glenn Houston, RQIA chief executive, said: "RQIA's review team found that improvements are needed to community respiratory services to avoid unnecessary admission to hospital, and to extend availability into the evening and weekends."
Patients also wanted more information on services available.
The report made a total of 17 recommendations to the Health and Social Care Board and trusts.