Tuberculosis Programme

Tuberculosis (TB) is a highly infectious disease caused by airborne bacteria, spread through the air when people with TB disease cough, sneeze, or speak. Closely linked to deprivation, overcrowding and malnutrition, it is a serious long term condition which is now curable.

Symptoms of active TB disease include a chronic cough, fever, chills, loss of appetite, weight loss, fatigue and haemoptysis (coughing up blood from the lungs and bronchial tubes). While TB generally affects the lungs, it can also affect other parts of the body. These symptoms can be mild and go undetected for many months before becoming severe, which is why timely detection is essential and important.

The Tuberculosis in England, 2022 report, published on World TB Day 2023, shows that despite an overall downward trend in the number and rate of TB notifications in England during the last 10 years, the rate of decline is slowing and without considerable efforts to address TB control, England will fall short of achieving the End TB Strategy’s target of 90% reduction in TB cases by 2035.

More information from UKHSA and NHS England on the latest situation with TB in England, and what we are doing to drive down cases, is available on the UKHSA website.

To monitor TB infection rates, treatment and transmission, NHS England and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) have jointly developed the TB Action Plan for England, 2021-2026 which builds on the Collaborative TB Strategy, 2015-2020, and the innovations and practices developed during the pandemic to support, maintain and restore TB services.  

Treatment for TB and Latent TB Infection (LTBI) in the UK is free for everyone, regardless of immigration status and irrespective of eligibility for other NHS care.

Latent TB animation

TB Action Plan for England, 2021 – 2026

The TB Action Plan for England, 2021 – 2026 will improve the prevention, detection and control of TB in England. There are five key priorities which are addressed as part of the plan:

  • Priority 1 – Prevent TB
  • Priority 2 – Detect TB
  • Priority 3 – Control TB disease
  • Priority 4 – Recovery post COVID
  • Priority 5 – Workforce

The overarching aim is to support a year on year reduction in TB incidence and transmission rates enabling the UK to meet its commitment to the WHO to eliminate TB by 2035.