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We have surveyed the current facilities for investigation and treatment of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) in the UK by sending a questionnaire to all physicians known to be offering this service in the financial year 1995-6. Replies were received from 42 of the 45 physicians approached. The number of diagnostic sleep studies performed over 12 months was 11, 486. The total number of patients receiving treatment with nasal continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) was 7006. Of these, CPAP treatment had been initiated in 2288 (32.7%) during the year surveyed. Based on the conservative estimates of prevalence of OSA used in the Royal College of Physicians Report on Sleep Apnoea (1993), the approximate number of patients with symptomatic OSA who might benefit from CPAP treatment in the UK is at least 51, 480. Of the 42 physicians who responded, the numbers reporting problems with NHS funding for sleep apnoea services in relation to diagnostic studies, CPAP systems and support staff were respectively 23, 25 and 24. Only 9 physicians experienced no financial problems related to the service in 1995-6. We conclude that less than 1 in 7 of potentially suitable patients with OSA in the UK are currently being treated with CPAP and that major problems of funding are being faced by the majority of physicians attempting to provide an appropriate level of service.


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