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.