Following the Labour Party leader Ed Miliband’s operation to correct a deviated septum, there has been much speculation that he has merely undergone this operation to improve the sound of his voice.

The political editor of The Guardian, Patrick Wintour, was particualrly dismissive of the medical need for Mr Miliband’s medical procedure, and also seems to grossly underestimate the seriousness of sleep apnoea:

“Ed Miliband had been asleep for an hour, recovering from an operation his team ludicrously continued to insist was solely about tackling a deviated septum in his nose, so making it easier for him to sleep, and possibly for his wife Justine to be spared the odd snore.”

I can only assume that Mr Wintour and his partner have never suffered from sleep apnoea, which as any sufferer will tell you is a serious and chronic condition that can ruin your quality of life, and that of your partner. There is also a growing body of evidence that sleep apnoea contributes to heart disease, and also road traffic accidents.

While this kind of surgery is only undertaken in a minority of cases (CPAP treatment is effective in 90% of cases), it can be an effective treatment for sleep apnoea, and I can only assume that this was the diagnosis Mr Miliband received as his operation was done on the NHS.