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Road Safety and Obstructive Sleep Apnoea

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Meg Munn MP recently met Lucinda Roberts and Tamara Sandoul from the British Lung Foundation who came to brief her about a new report on the health economics of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA). The report shows that treating OSA can generate direct health benefits to patients, and reduce costs incurred by the NHS, in comparison with not treating the condition.

Currently, only 22% of OSA patients are treated in the UK, but increasing diagnosis and treatment rates to just 45% could yield an annual saving of 28 million. This includes savings from reductions in road traffic accidents, heart attacks and strokes, as well as the positive impact on patients’ quality of life and improved survival rates. It is estimated that if everyone with moderate to severe OSA was treated approximately 40,000 road traffic accidents could be prevented - accidents that not only affect sufferers, but cause injury and death to many others.

During a debate in Westminster Hall on OSA with the Health Minister Meg stated that 40,000 lorry drivers may suffer from sleep apnoea, with one third of road accidents being caused by a working driver. In 2012 the number of people killed in road accidents was 1,754, so approximately 600 deaths involved people who drive for work. She explained that the Health and Safety Executive does not investigate these deaths and pressed the Minister to ensure the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) change its policy and start to investigate such deaths. He agreed to raise these serious issues with the HSE.

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) is a condition where the walls of the throat relax and narrow during sleep, and sufferer’s breathing becomes laboured with repeated sleep interruptions. It affects people of all ages, including up to 4% of middle-aged men, 2% of middle-aged women and 20% of those aged over 70. Although not everyone with OSA is overweight, many are, and with an increasingly overweight population, it is anticipated that the rates of OSA will increase in the coming years.

Associated Photograph :

Meg with Lucinda Roberts and Tamara Sandoul

Meg with Lucinda Roberts and Tamara Sandoul

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