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Congratulations to Rachel Shelley for winning the Broadcast Journalism Training Council (BJTC) Best Radio News Feature award for her piece on sleep apnoea named Snore and Peace. Available to listen to here on SoundCloud


Find out more about the awards and winners on the #bjtc Facebook page

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Sleep deprivation is a significant hidden factor in lowering the achievement of school pupils, according to researchers carrying out international education tests.

It is a particular problem in more affluent countries, with sleep experts linking it to the use of mobile phones and computers in bedrooms late at night. Sleep deprivation is such a serious disruption that lessons have to be pitched at a lower level to accommodate sleep-starved learners, the study found.

The international comparison, carried out by Boston College, found the United States to have the highest number of sleep-deprived students, with 73% of 9 and 10-year-olds and 80% of 13 and 14-year-olds identified by their teachers as being adversely affected. In literacy tests there were 76% of 9 and 10-year-olds lacking sleep.

This was much higher than the international average of 47% of primary pupils needing more sleep and 57% among the secondary age group. Other countries with the most sleep-deprived youngsters were New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Australia, England, Ireland and France. High-performing Finland is also among the most lacking in sleep. Countries with the best records for getting enough sleep include Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Japan and Malta.

The analysis was part of the huge data-gathering process for global education rankings – the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS).

Read the full BBC story


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An online survey conducted by the Sleeping Disorders Centre has found that almost three quarters of respondents were at a high risk of suffering from sleep apnoea. Half of the 52 respondents were classified as obese (with a BMI over 35), a key indicator of risk, 69.2% said that they snored loudly, and 92.2% complained of feeling tired during the daytime. 55.8% of all respondents to the survey were men, who traditionally have a higher risk level than women, although recent evidence suggests this gap is closing.

Michael Oko, consultant ENT surgeon, and Sleeping Disorders Centre founder, said:

“Sleep apnoea prevents people from getting a good night’s sleep by preventing air getting to the lungs. This leads to tiredness and irritability, and marital problems, and can also contribute to serious illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. Once people are aware they are suffering from the condition there are various treatments that can help them to overcome it, the most common being wearing a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) mask at night.”

Mr Oko, who recently appeared as an expert on a BBC1 programme about sleeping disorders “Goodnight Britain”, actively campaigns to raise awareness of sleep apnoea and writes a regular blog on the subject. He will be addressing the 10th Middle East Update in Otolaryngology in Dubai on 21st April 2013. He added:

“Almost all the survey respondents felt tired during the day, and must have suspected a sleeping disorder to have visited the site and completed the survey. I hope that more and more people will take this test and get help if they need it, as the survey shows; if you think you may have a sleeping disorder, the chances are that you do.”

Visitors to the Sleeping Disorders Centre website were asked to complete the STOP-BANG questionnaire, a set of eight questions regarded as the most accurate means of indicating a person’s level of risk of suffering from sleep apnoea from a self-conducted survey. Answering yes to three or more of the eight questions (measuring BMI, age, sex, neck size, snoring, fatigue, blood pressure, and observed apnoeas) indicates a high risk and that the person should visit their GP or go to a sleep clinic for an assessment.

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The March newsletter is now out!

Snore Centre eNewsletter March 2013

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Just want to let you all know that I will be featuring in an upcoming BBC1 program called “Goodnight Britain” on November 29th at 9pm. Should be of interest to sleep apnoea sufferers, and hopefully get the issue some publicity

The program is in two parts. Part 1 is on Wednesday November 28th at 9pm, and part 2 is on Thursday November 29th at 9pm.

“Goodnight Britain tackles the nation’s biggest sleep disorders, meeting and curing some of the UK’s worst sleepers and exposing the extraordinary behaviour that lurks behind Britain’s bedroom curtains.”

“In the first part of a new two-part series presented by Sian Williams, Goodnight Britain’s sleep experts – Dr Kirstie Anderson and Dr Jason Ellis – venture into the bedrooms of five contributors tormented by a range of conditions, from parasomniacs who scream the house down and snorers whose trumpeting rattles the window-panes, to insomniacs who bake six hours a night.

Through the use of high-tech night-vision cameras, the sleep experts observe the secrets of the patients’ sleep problems first hand. But the investigations don’t stop there: the five contributors are also subjected to a night at the Goodnight Britain Sleep House, where every toss, turn and snuffle is monitored using state-of-the-art equipment while they sleep. Only then do the causes of their night-time traumas fully come to light and our experts can begin to devise a treatment plan that just might work.”

From the BBC website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/proginfo/2012/48/goodnight-britain-48.html

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The British Lung Foundation is running a campaign to raise awareness of sleep apnoea. In their10-point OSA Charter, they call on governments across the UK to take action so that people with OSA and their families get the support and treatment they need.

You can help to make a difference! by completing this online form on the BLFs website, you can tell your elected representative why it is important to take action on OSA to bring about earlier and better rates of diagnosis, and to secure better care and treatment for all those with the condition.


The OSA Charter

The British Lung Foundation…

Believes that people with OSA and their families have a right to:
1. OSA screening, through primary care wherever possible;
2. a speedy and accurate diagnosis in a sleep clinic, wherever they live in the UK;
3. access to appropriate treatment and to a comprehensive specialist sleep service if needed, wherever they live in the UK;
4. appropriate information and ongoing support for the management of the condition, according to agreed national standards and provided by suitably qualified and trained staff; and
5.timely and relevant information on the implications of an OSA diagnosis for vigilance-critical job roles, and fast-tracking for diagnosis and treatment if people with OSA drive for a living.

Calls on governments across the UK to:

6. make OSA a national priority;
7. increase awareness of the symptoms and dangers of, and issues that surround, OSA among medical professionals, employers, the general public and those at greatest risk;
8. ensure collection of comprehensive data to enable commissioners and service planners to provide effective services; and
9. encourage investment in research, including clinical trials, recognising the potential cost savings and improvements to quality of life that could be made.

And encourages employers to:

10. arrange for all staff who are employed as drivers or in other vigilance-critical roles to be screened for OSA.

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The Daily Mail reported last week on a new Harvard University study linking sleeping pills to dementia, but this and other similar studies fail to take into account the well established link between sleep apnoea and dementia.

This links is well documented, and a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association last year found that, “women who have breathing problems during sleep were up to 50 per cent more likely to develop cognitive impairment or dementia than women who sleep normally.”

The important factor missing here is that sleeping pills suppress the respiratory centres, causing the onset of apnoeas, which in turn leads to the increased risk of dementia. The sleeping pills are therefore indirectly responsible for the increased incidence of dementia, so cutting out the pills will only be effective if the patient is not already suffering from sleep apnoea.

Dementia is one of the biggest burdens facing the NHS. Some experts believe the cost of caring for patients will rise to £35billion annually within the next two decades. There are currently 800,000 Britons with dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. We therefore need more research into the link between sleep apnoea and dementia, and to start testing all elderly people for sleep apnoea as a preventative measure.


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The Department of Health has set up a Obstructive Sleep Apnoea  (OSA) Working Group with a brief to produce a report outlining recommendations for the Department of Health’s (DH) Respiratory Programme Board on a clinically effective strategy to improve outcomes for adults with obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) from April 2013.

Consultant ENT surgeon, and founder of the Sleeping Disorders Centre, Michael Oko, welcomed the formation of the working group:

“I am looking forward to contributing to the work of DH in this important area. Awareness of sleep apnoea and its associated risks has been historically low, with many sufferers undiagnosed. However, evidence shows that the condition is widespread with around 4% of the population affected, and there is a growing body of evidence linking the condition to an increased risk of stroke, heart failure, diabetes, and other serious illnesses. The rising tide of obesity and cardiovascular disease, coupled with the increasing public awareness of sleep apnoea, will mean that diagnosis of sleep apnoea is set to keep rising and we will need to have a strategy in place to cope with this growth in demand for sleep apnoea services in the UK”.

The terms of reference of the working group, which met for the first time on 19 July, include identifying the quality and economic costs to the NHS of the burden of OSA; reviewing current initiatives and incentives to improve the quality of care for people with OSA; prioritising interventions that will have the most impact on improving quality, outcomes and procurement of equipment; highlighting the impact of OSA on patients with co-morbidities including those with hypertension, obesity, stroke, cardiovascular disease, heart failure and diabetes; and to align development of the strategy with the objectives of the Outcomes Strategy for COPD and Asthma and existing work undertaken by the BLF, BTS, ARTP Sleep and British Sleep Society.

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I will be speaking at the World Health Care Congress Europe about the Sleeping Disorders Centre as an innovative healthcare partnership working to reduce road traffic deaths. The talk will cover:

  • Exploring the link between obstructive sleep apnoea and road traffic accidents
  • Working in partnership to identify where healthcare interventions can deliver benefits to the wider community
  • Demonstrating that surgical treatment of sleep apnoea and investment in ENT services delivers measurable reductions in road traffic deaths and injuries

This is taking place in Amsterdam on Wednesday 23rd May.

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A very interesting post on Fierce Healthcare blog about the link between patient satisfaciton and profit in the US. This is also highly relevant to the way the NHS is going. When revalidation comes doctors will be judged on how happy their patients are, and patients will choose doctors with the best track record.

“Hospitals with high performance scores in patient care are more profitable, according to a new Press Ganey report. The top 25 percent of U.S. hospitals with the highest scores on the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) question about performance were, on average, the most profitable and had the highest clinical scores, suggesting that patient experience, coupled with clinical outcomes, can mean financial profitability for the institution.

“It is interesting to note that the only hospitals that showed a positive profit margin were those that were highly rated by their patients,” the report states. “…Although there is not a lot of difference in the clinical measures among the four groups of hospitals segmented on patient rating score, the top quarter of hospitals based on HCAHPS overall rating score also have the highest average clinical score. Taken together, these [results] suggest that excellence in patient experiences, clinical outcomes and financial profitability often occur together.”

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