The Office for Health Economics and The British Lung Foundation have published a report this month which clearly demonstrates the cost of undiagnosed sleep apnoea to the NHS.
Despite the clear evidence of benefit and value for money, there is evidence from recent research estimating that about 85 per cent of OSA cases currently are undiagnosed and untreated in the UK.
Research found the following OSA prevalence in the UK:
1.5 million adults living with OSA
45 per cent have moderate and severe OSA: 667,000 people
55 per cent have mild OSA
Considering only direct benefits, the report estimates the NHS in the UK would be saving a total of £55 million and producing 40,000 QALYs annually if all people with moderate to severe OSA (45 per cent of the total OSA patient population) were diagnosed and treated with CPAP, relative to none being diagnosed and treated.
If everyone estimated to have moderate to severe OSA in the UK were treated, compared with the estimated current treatment level, the NHS would be saving £28 million pounds and producing 20,000 QALYs annually. Approximately 40,000 road accidents could be prevented.
In addition to direct health benefits to patients and costs/savings to the NHS, treating OSA produces wider economic benefits, including increased productivity due to reduced sleepiness at work, and also quality of life improvements for people close to OSA patients (their bed partners).
The evidence found in the literature demonstrates that OSA patients, the NHS and the wider society in the UK have not yet obtained all of the economic and health benefits that could be achieved. An increase in the rate of uptake of CPAP could double the savings to the NHS and the health benefits to patients compared to the current situation.