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Meg Munn MP - Sheffield Heeley's voice in Parliament | Welcome
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Obstructive Sleep Apnoea

Thursday, September 4, 2014

A debate on the above subject was held in Parliament to which Meg made the following brief contribution.

Meg Munn (Sheffield, Heeley) (Lab/Co-op): I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton West (Julie Hilling) on securing the debate and thank her for allowing me to make a very short contribution. The link between Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) and road traffic accidents is well established, and I was alerted to that fact when the nephew of one of my constituents was killed by a lorry driver with undiagnosed sleep apnoea.

According to medical experts, 10% to 20% of lorry drivers—that could be as many as 40,000 drivers—may suffer from sleep apnoea. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents estimates that one third of road accidents are caused by somebody at work. In 2012, the number of people killed in road accidents was 1,754, so we are talking about approximately 600 deaths involving people who drive for work. [Interruption.]

Mr Dai Havard (in the Chair): Order. I am going to have to stop you, because we have a procedure issue here. The Minister did not understand that you were going to make a contribution.

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Norman Lamb): I am happy for the hon. Lady to make a contribution, but it needs to be brief.

Meg Munn: I am coming to the end, Mr Havard. In fact, I would have finished—

Mr Dai Havard (in the Chair): If I had not intervened.

Meg Munn: The point that I want to make is that the Health and Safety Executive does not investigate such deaths. Will the Minister press his colleagues in the Department for Work and Pensions to get the Health and Safety Executive to look at road deaths and not to ignore a major concern about driving at work, in which OSA plays a significant part?

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Norman Lamb): It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Havard. I congratulate the hon. Member for Bolton West (Julie Hilling) on securing the debate. One of the great benefits of Adjournment debates is that they force Ministers to focus on one condition among the array of things that we have to deal with, and this debate puts an important spotlight on OSA. I will take up with Professor Mike Morgan, the national clinical director for respiratory disease, the issues that the hon. Lady has raised.

In accordance with the request from the hon. Member for Sheffield somewhere or other—

Meg Munn: Heeley.

Norman Lamb: In accordance with the request of the hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Meg Munn), I will write to the Health and Safety Executive. She made a good point, and I am happy to raise it directly with the HSE. Those are serious issues, and they deserve to be taken seriously.

And subsequently at the end of the debate.

Meg Munn: As there is a bit of time remaining, may I press the Minister on the Health and Safety Executive? We do not currently know how many accidents involve sleep apnoea, and we might need to consider not only more action on the health side but more action to ensure that employers are screening drivers who are particularly at risk.

Norman Lamb: I indicated earlier that I am happy to write to the Health and Safety Executive, and I will ensure that the Hansard report of this debate is referred to it so that the hon. Lady’s point can be taken up. I will also write to the national clinical director and NICE. I hope those actions will contribute to the objective, which we all share, of raising awareness and getting the system to be much better at intervening earlier to help people with conditions. Such intervention can have a massive impact on people’s lives and, with a bit of support and access to treatment, can completely transform the lives of those individuals.

The full debate is available to read:



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