Britain ‘lagging behind’ in treatment for sleep disorder

‘Lack of awareness’ about debilitating complaint from which Ed Miliband suffered

The UK is lagging behind other countries in diagnosing and treating the debilitating sleep disorder for which Ed Miliband required surgery, a leading charity has warned.

New research from the British Lung Foundation has revealed “significant and concerning” inequalities between different parts of the UK in the availability of “sleep medicine” to treat the common condition obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA).

Across the country, only 50 sleep centres offer full diagnostic tests. That is the equivalent of one for every 1.25 million people – a ratio that is around 10 times higher in the US. Researchers said that as many as 80 per cent of OSA cases may have been missed.

OSA is a condition that causes interrupted breathing during sleep. It occurs when the muscles and soft tissues in the throat relax to the extent that they block the airway during sleep for 10 seconds or more. It can seriously damage the quality of sleep, by either waking the sufferer up or causing them to periodically come out of deep sleep. Sufferers can be left feeling consistently tired, and the condition has been linked to conditions such as heart disease, depression and strokes.

It is associated with being overweight, and is more likely to occur later in life. It is estimated to affect 4 per cent of middle-aged men and 2 per cent of middle-aged women, but once diagnosed can be easily treated. Labour leader Mr Miliband had surgery at the Royal Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital in London to cure OSA, caused by a deviated nasal septum, in 2011.

The study, carried out with clinicians from Guys and St Thomas’ Hospital in London, and published in the journal Thorax today, compared predicted prevalence of OSA – based on data for the five most common risk factors: obesity, type 2 diabetes, older age, high blood pressure, and gender – with the provision of sleep centres.

Sixty-six of the 213 clinical commissioning group areas in England had no sleep centres. In total there were 289 sleep centres in the UK, but only 50 offered polysomnography – a comprehensive sleep test that can identify a wide range of disorders. In the USA, 2,461 accredited sleep centres offer polysomnography, catering for a population of just over 310 million, the study’s authors said.

Parts of mid-Wales, the North-west and East Anglia had the lowest provision of sleep centres, while large urban areas were generally better-served.

Dr Penny Woods, Chief Executive of the British Lung Foundation said: “The disparity between the predicted prevalence of OSA and the distribution of sleep centres with which to diagnose and treat the condition show that there is much to be done if we are to properly address the burden OSA currently places on the health of the nation… With rates of OSA likely to rise further with an ageing and increasingly overweight population, I hope this research will act as a wake-up call for governments and NHS bodies across the UK.”

Professor Adrian Williams, Medical Advisor at the British Lung Foundation, Professor of Sleep Medicine at Guys and St Thomas' Hospital, and co-author of the study: “Too often, a lack of awareness leads to the symptoms of OSA being not recognised, or dismissed simply as an irritation for anyone who shares a room with someone affected…OSA is easily treatable in a way that can successfully minimise the associated risks. This makes it all the more frustrating that, as highlighted by this research, it may be difficult to identify and offer treatment to those in need across large parts of the country.”

News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEpic YouTube video features boundary-pushing staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Travel
travel
News
Robyn Lawley
people
News
people
News
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
people
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    M&E Construction Planning Manager: Surrey

    £60000 - £90000 per annum + Car, Pension, Healthcare: Progressive Recruitment:...

    M&E Construction Planner Solihull

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + Car, Healthcare, Pensions: Progressive Recruitment...

    PHP Developer - MySQL, RDBMS, Application Development

    competitive: Progressive Recruitment: PHP Developer - MySQL, RDBMS, Applicatio...

    SAP Business Analyst - Data Migration, £75,000, Manchester

    £60000 - £75000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Senior SAP B...

    Day In a Page

    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
    Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

    Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

    Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
    Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

    Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

    Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
    Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

    Spanx launches range of jeans

    The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
    10 best over-ear headphones

    Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

    Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
    Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

    Commonwealth Games

    David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

    Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
    Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

    Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
    Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star