Treating Sleep Apnoea can balance the NHS budget

Can the NHS cut costs and meet rising expectations?  Treating OSA could save it £28 billion per year and the diagram below shows how cutting down the treatment being required for so many health issues could do it.

Male figure in anatomical position

In all cases these are the Government’s own figures that are being used.

Although all the major political parties have pledged to protect the NHS from spending cuts, after a period of unprecedented growth there is now the prospect of a both a funding freeze, or close to it, and cut backs in some vital services including A&E. and the provision of some life-extending drugs. Other changes include elderly care, with more having to be done at home under family supervision at the individual’s own cost.

This would be the most austere period for the NHS in over thirty years.  Even with funding held constant, rising demands from an ageing population, together with higher public expectations driven by clinical developments, mean there is likely to be a substantial “funding gap” to be met by improvements in ‘productivity and efficiency’ – for want of a better term.  The NHS Chief Executive estimates that savings of around £25 billion will be required to maintain the quality of care that is currently on offer.

In last week’s Westminster debate, Government figures stated emphatically that improved and more widespread treatment of OSA would save the NHS £28 billion per year if it happened. Other countries have adopted this type of treatment plan and success stories are already in existence – yet we lag behind. Other nations are training both doctors and dentists to understand sleep apnoea better, and treat it, but it’s not happening here as yet.

The good news is that rather than wait until obstructive sleep apnoea is so severe that it demands supervised medical care, including the costly use of CPAP, a pump that is used all night to force air through a face mask, it can be stopped easily – and often reversed as well.

Mild and moderate OSA sufferers need only to undertake a programme of simple oral appliance therapy to do this. This recent recommendation was made by a team of medical experts at the UK’s leading specialist centre for sleep disorders. Papworth Hospital is world-renowned in its field and it leads the way as Britain’s top heart and lung specialist hospital, as well as having the largest respiratory support and sleep centre in the UK.

The team at Papworth tested a range of different types of oral appliances and stated that SleepPro Custom should be used as the foremost appliance to treat mild OSA, and also that it should replace CPAP for moderate OSA sufferers – particularly the many who disliked the uncomfortable side effects of CPAP, and often stopped using it because of this.

If you do this for yourself, and the NHS does the same in its turn, then not only will it safeguard your future health, but also free up NHS budget for other things. It’s a very small cost to extend or even save your life.

By John Redfern