Latest News – NICE Changes Clinical Knowledge Summary for GPs about OSAS and job security
This recommendation is based on the Four-Week Wait Campaign – For the treatment of obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome (OSAS) [OSA Partnership Group, 2015].
The treatment of vocational drivers with obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome (OSAS) should be expedited to allow driving again within a maximum of four weeks following first referral.
– BBC Radio 4 Lorry Drivers and Sleep Apnoea programme – click here
Each day five people lose their lives in road traffic accidents in the UK, and many more are seriously injured. It is believed that a good proportion of these accidents were caused by people who were driving when sleepy, a typical symptom of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Syndrome (OSAS).
OSA is a condition which affects 5% of the adult population often undiagnosed, and which, when accompanied by the main symptom of excessive sleepiness, is called obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome (OSAS). OSAS is a particularly common condition amongst middle-aged men in the UK, especially those who are overweight, a group over-represented within the HGV and PSV community. We also believe that the prevalence rate for this condition may be increasing as a result of the rising levels of obesity, a known risk factor for OSA, as well as other conditions.
However, not only is the treatment of OSAS reasonably straightforward but the overall health and vitality of patients improves as a result of this treatment, and therefore a further benefit can be seen in better patient outcomes and reduced healthcare costs.
The OSA Partnership Group, which was set up to raise awareness of the condition, is calling on the Department of Health to issue the following guidance to CCGs, Hospitals and GPs:
“The treatment of vocational drivers with obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome (OSAS) should be expedited to allow driving again within a maximum of four weeks following first referral”.
We believe that vocational drivers who may have OSAS must be confident that coming forward with their symptoms will not lead to loss of livelihood and income. At present we know that many fear suspension or dismissal by their employers if they come forward for treatment. However by not coming forward they remain a hazard to themselves and others because they risk falling asleep while driving.
A number of studies have shown that road traffic accidents are not only more common in people with untreated OSAS, they are between 3-9 times more likely than average, and these accidents are likely to be of increased severity and in the case of someone driving a large vehicle this increases again.
So we are calling on healthcare professionals, MPs, commercial transport companies and members of the Public to support our campaign and to support the action that the treatment for vocational drivers is fast tracked to a maximum of four weeks from first referral, thereby reducing the number of people who die and the resulting devastation caused to those they leave behind.
The full context is detailed in our campaign document, along with endorsements from clinicians and patient groups. Please take time to read it and support our goal.
Sleep Matters Issue 54 – March 2015 (pdf)