Medical gases are playing an ever more important role in UK healthcare. Today, they are essential to the existence and wellbeing of hundreds of thousands of people, who depend on medical gases every day, both in hospitals and at home.

In this post, AMS Composite Cylinders Director, Steve Langron, takes a look at the vital role medical gases play in the UK healthcare market.

A growing concern – respiratory health statistics

Respiratory disease is on the increase. 1 in 5 people in the UK are affected by some kind of respiratory disease, and it is the third biggest cause of death in the UK, accounting for around 13.4% of all deaths.


The percentages of people in the UK suffering from asthma is one of the highest in the world – an estimated 5.4 million people have the condition, and it hospitalises more than 65,000 people each year.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

COPD is also on the rise. In addition to the 900,000 people living with a COPD diagnoses, current government estimates suggest that there could be a further 2 million undiagnosed sufferers.

Each year, more than 115,000 people in the UK require emergency admission to hospital for COPD, and 25,000 succumb to the condition. By 2030, the World Health Organisation predicts that it will become the third leading cause of death globally.

Medical oxygen and respiratory care

Oxygen plays an essential role in care – from the hospital bed to the home. It’s used in mechanical ventilation for patients with both serious COPD and asthma, as well as for those suffering from a wide range of respiratory conditions.

Vital for life

Therapeutic use

Medical gases play an essential therapeutic role in other aspects of healthcare, including pain management and anaesthesia.

During labour and childbirth, nitrous oxide and oxygen blends provide effective pain relief. After the baby is born, nitric oxide is used as a therapeutic inhalant to provide respiratory support for new-borns.

For operations which require a general anaesthetic, medicinal nitrous oxide, oxygen and synthetic air are used widely in both anaesthesia and reanimation. Nitrous oxide also has uses outside the respiratory sphere – when used in liquid form, it’s an essential component in cryotherapy.

Calibration gases

Medical gases play a vital role in healthcare outside of the therapeutic applications. Calibration gas mixtures are used to check and maintain the reliability and accuracy of a range of medical devices and diagnostic equipment.

The Compressed Gas Market and the British Compressed Gases Association (BCGA)

Medical gases, and the wider compressed gases market is becoming a big industry. The BCGA is the UK membership body for the compressed gas industry, and its members employ 19,000 people, generating a turnover of £2.7bn to the UK economy.

As part of this growth, the gas cylinders market is also developing. Today, there are more than 400,000 medical gas cylinders in circulation across the UK, and the European gas cylinder market is expected to reach $625M over the year ahead.

Further information about the “invisible industry” can be found in this BCGA article.

Lightweight medical gas cylinders from AMS Composite Cylinders

AMS Composite Cylinders are the exclusive European and UK distributors for Advanced Material Systems (AMS), one of the world’s leading carbon fibre technology specialists.

Our company produces a range of standard and customised carbon composite and aluminium cylinders, with products suitable for a wide variety of breathing air and oxygen therapy applications, including healthcare, respiratory, SCBA (Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus), laboratory, emergency and environmental uses.

The high-quality carbon composite cylinders offer high pressure (300 Bar), low weight, and NLL (Non-Limited Life) performance, and are accredited for use worldwide.

Additional information about AMS Composite Cylinders can be found at