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A new 10-point charter outlining the diagnosis and treatment that people living with obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) should have access to has been launched today by the British Lung Foundation.

The BLF’s OSA charter also calls for improved screening, and more comprehensive and consistent access to sleep clinic diagnosis and appropriate treatment throughout the UK. The charter also calls on governments across the UK to make OSA a national priority. This reflects the need to improve the current levels of awareness of the symptoms and dangers of untreated OSA across a broad a range of people, from the public through to healthcare professionals.

Chris Mulholland, head of the British Lung Foundation Wales, said: “The BLF’s OSA charter reflects the need for earlier diagnosis, better access to treatment and increased awareness – both among the wider public and medical community.

“The range of health and lifestyle impacts of OSA mean these recommendations not only have the potential to save lives, but to make considerable savings to the NHS at a time of great financial pressure.”

Dr Keir Lewis, respiratory consultant at Hywel Dda Health Board, and an expert in obstructive sleep apnoea, said: “Sleep apnoea can take a huge toll on an individual’s health and wellbeing. Those with undiagnosed sleep apnoea are very extensive hospital users before they are diagnosed, and visit hospitals and their GPs less when they are on the correct treatment.

“Moreover, undiagnosed people are at between four and seven times greater risk of having road traffic accidents than the rest of the population. And yet it really can be completely treated. For some patients it may simply be changes to lifestyle, for others it may be using a machine to help them breathe at night.”

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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Read the latest Snore Centre eNewsletter here:

Snore Centre Patient enewsletter May 2012

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According to a new study in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine on car accident factors in southwest France, there was little difference between driving sleepy or drunk. Both doubled the risk of causing a car accident. This information is largely significant for drivers and the public to be aware because it can save lives.

The study included 679 people who were hospitalized because of a car accident between 2007 and 2009 in France. According to the study, men and younger adults were more likely to drive while sleepy.

The researchers wrote: In conclusion, the main factors associated with being responsible for a crash resulting in serious injury were younger age and driving cars, but more important were alcohol ingestion and sleepiness at the wheel, which are synergic.

In terms of possible action to reduce accidents the researchers wrote: “If alcohol use while driving can be reduced by legal interdictions and punishment correlated with BAC, the fight against sleepiness at the wheel can be addressed only by information and education. Coercion might be difficult to implement: could, for instance, a Stanford sleepiness test be administered by police forces and drivers fined or forbidden to drive if they fail?”

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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 new Australian study published in Sleep Journal has highlighted the dangers of sleep apnoea in commercial drivers:

As obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is associated with a higher risk of motor vehicle crashes, there is increasing regulatory interest in the identification of commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers with this condition. This study aimed to determine the relationship between subjective versus objective assessment of OSA in CMV drivers.

Drivers were interviewed regarding their driving experience, personal health, shift schedules, payments, and various questions on sleep and tiredness in order to describe their sleep health across a range of variables. In addition, home recordings using a flow monitor were used during one night of sleep. Only 4.4% of drivers reported a previous diagnosis of sleep apnea, while our at home diagnostic test found a further 41% of long-distance heavy vehicle drivers likely to have sleep apnea. The multivariable apnea prediction index, based on self-report measures, showed poor agreement with the home-monitor detected sleep apnea (AUC 0.58, 95%CI = 0.49-0.62), and only 12% of drivers reported daytime sleepiness (Epworth Sleepiness Scale score > 10). Thirty-six percent of drivers were overweight and a further 50% obese; 49% of drivers were cigarette smokers.

The study concluded:

Sleep apnea remains a significant and unrecognized problem in CMV drivers, who we found to have multiple health risks. Objective testing for this sleep disorder needs to be considered, as symptom reports and self-identification appear insufficient to accurately identify those at risk.

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The Sleep Alliance has released an important report into how untreated sleep disorders are damaging the UK.

“The Sleep SOS Report presents a comprehensive overview of how excessive sleepiness is damaging the health
and economy of the nation. Sleep disorders are a major contributing factor to fatal road accidents, heart
disease, strokes, lost productivity and the breakdown of marriages, in addition to impaired quality of life for
hundreds of thousands of patients in the UK. Yet whilst the prevalence of sleep disorders is rising, the provision
of medical services is in desperate need of attention.”

• Approximately 6% of adults suffer from excessive sleepiness – over 3.5 million people in the UK.
• 20% of accidents on motorways are caused by excessive sleepiness.
• Untreated cases of a single sleep disorder – obstructive sleep apnoea – are costing the NHS
£432 million per year.

The report ends with this call to action:

“The Sleep Alliance calls on the Government and NHS for a commitment to sleep medicine
and improved funding of sleep services, to allow optimal diagnosis and management of
excessive sleepiness, particularly OSAHS – the most common treatable condition. In addition,
the Sleep Alliance calls for improved awareness of excessive sleepiness amongst healthcare
professionals and the general public through education and greater recognition of the
impact of sleep disorders on patients’ lives and society as a whole.”

Read the Sleep SOS Report: Sleep SOS Report – 20111231

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Happy New Year from everyone at the Snore Centre!

Please click below to read the Snore Centre eNewsletter for December 2011

Snore Centre eNewsletter Dec11 (pdf)


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While I was out in Abu Dhabi speaking at the World Health Care Congress I spoke to a journalist from the region’s leading daily, Gulf News, about the dangers of sleep apnoea for drivers.

Levels of awareness about the prevalence and fatal consequences of sleeping disorders are worryingly low, and judging by the comments of Dr Yousuf Al Tigani, a psychiatry specialist at Al Noor Hospital – that he had only seen one case in seven years – suggest that people do not know they are suffering from the condition. Given that around 5% of the population in the Gulf have sleep apnoea, this situation requires urgent action.

During my visit to Abu Dhabi I was presented with a Middle East Hospital magazine award recognising my efforts to raise awareness about sleep apnoea in the region by Riz Khan of Al Jazeera. Hopefully this award will help towards increasing knowledge about sleep apnoea and is dangers, and result in more people seeking treatment.



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The Charlotte Observer reports that a five-month investigation by NewsChannel 36 finds that one factor in the increasing number of trucking deaths is seldom reported and largely unregulated: sleep apnoea.

Drowsy driving kills more people on America’s highways than distracted driving, a top sleep expert recently told a motor carrier safety advisory panel. Dr. Charles Czeisler of Harvard University Medical School says sleep apnoea gets a lot less attention than other factors in deadly accidents involving tractor-trailers, but accounts for one in five crashes.

The number of Americans who died in commercial truck crashes grew slightly to about 4,000 last year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator recently told Congress.

“I would argue that fatigue as a causal factor in truck-involved crashes is underreported, not over-reported,” said Don Osterberg, vice president of Safety for Schneider National Trucking. “Absent the commercial driver acknowledging that he or she fell asleep, law enforcement doesn’t record the crash as fatigue-related.”

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Lord Darzi presents Michael Oko with MEH award

Snoring Disorders Centre founder, Consultant ENT surgeon Michael Oko, will address senior healthcare executives from across the Middle East in Abu Dhabi next week.

At the World Health Care Congress Middle East (11-13 December 2011) Mr Oko will be speaking about the benefits of preventative treatment in delivering cost savings, using the example of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) testing and treatment in Lincolnshire UK.

It is suspected that about 20% of car accidents are sleep related and research has shown that sleepiness can impair driving more than drink! Indeed, patients with Obstructive Sleep Apnoea have a 7-12 fold chance of a road traffic accident (RTA) compared to those who do not, and results in Lincolnshire have shown that treating the condition can reduce the accident rate dramatically.

In an interview to be published in Middle East Hospital magazine this month Mr Oko said,

“Fatal road accidents in Lincolnshire used to average about 79 per year. By December 2010, the number of fatal road traffic accidents had fallen from 79 to 45. A significant contributory factor in this success is that since 2006 the Snoring Disorders Centre has treated over 1,200 patients with sleep apnoea and these people are now able to drive more safely, rather than being in fear of falling asleep at the wheel. As well as the lives that have been saved by this initiative, this reduction in accidents also represents a saving of over £55 million to the economy, including the NHS.”

Mr Oko is bringing this message to the Middle East in a bid to raise awareness of the dangers of not addressing the rising incidence of OSA across the region,

“With the low level of awareness of sleep apnoea in the Middle East it’s no surprise that road accident rates in the Gulf region are dreadful. In fact road traffic accidents are the second major cause of death in the UAE and there are 3500 fatalities per year from RTAs in Saudi Arabia alone. I believe that the success I have had in Lincolnshire can be replicated in the Middle East by raising awareness of the condition, and forming long-term partnerships with local hospitals, doctors, and government departments.”

Mr Oko has already been very active in bringing this message to the healthcare community in the Middle East throughout 2011. For his work in this area Mr Oko was awarded the Middle East Hospital magazine award for excellence in respiratory care.

In January 2012 Mr Oko is opening a new private clinic at 150 Harley Street in London, to increase treatment capacity in the London area, and to cater for overseas patients. He also plans to open further satellite clinics throughout the UK.


Notes to editors:

Media contact: Guy Rowland, PR Consultant | +44 (0)7909 088369 |

Launched in 2010, the World Health Care Congress Middle East (11-13 December 2011, Abu Dhabi), is the premier conference to feature global health care innovation. It attracts more than 600 senior health care thought leaders from all industry sectors, including hospitals, health systems, employers, government agencies, pharma, biotech and industry suppliers. WHCC Middle East is organized with sovereign partners the Health Authority-Abu Dhabi (HAAD) and the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA). Additional sponsorship is currently provided by The Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA) and Children’s National Medical Center

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