Obstructive Sleep Apnoea: 4 Week-Wait campaign

Fast tracking of treatment for vocational drivers with Obstructive Sleep Apnoea

Thursday, April 13, 2017

  • The OSA Partnership Group has undertaken many initiatives to raise awareness of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea
  • Gillian Gibbons talks through the 4-Week Wait campaign which aims to fast track treatment for OSA, particularly with HGV drivers

The Four-Week Wait Campaign aims to introduce fast-tracking of treatment for vocational drivers with Obstructive Sleep Apnoea.

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) is a condition which if untreated can be very dangerous to the patient’s health, significantly reducing quality of life. In addition because it causes excessive sleepiness, it is a risk factor for road traffic accidents which can have a devastating impact, not only on the patient, but on other members of the public.

From our experience we know that:

  1. The typical profile of a vocational driver, particularly HGV drivers, means that they are a high risk group when it comes to OSA.
  2. That these drivers are not confident to come forward for treatment because they fear the loss of their licence, and thus the prospect of losing their job.

However, by not coming forward, they remain a hazard to themselves and others because they risk falling asleep while driving.

Consequently the Four-Week Wait campaign is calling for:

‘The treatment of vocational drivers with obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome (OSAS) to be expedited to allow driving again within a maximum of four weeks following first referral.

It is important to note that the objective of this campaign is not to single out vocational drivers, nor to suggest that they are in any way at fault. HGV drivers in particular are widely recognised as some of the safest drivers on our roads.

However OSAS is a condition that overwhelms driving skill in even the best drivers, as sufferers have no control over the sleepiness that OSAS can cause. Our aim is to support the case of these vocational drivers to ensure that they can be confident when presenting with relevant symptoms of receiving prompt diagnosis and treatment.

The OSA Partnership Group has undertaken many initiatives to raise awareness of OSA, particularly with HGV drivers. It now feels we need to take this a step further by pushing for UK-wide fast tracking of treatment for this group of vocational drivers, who are so dependent on maintaining the ability to drive. In so doing, we aim to prevent the understandable tendency for drivers not to come forward and be treated for their symptoms.

In order to achieve our objective we are working with NHS England, NICE and the Department of Transport in order to encourage Clinical Commissioning Groups, GPs and sleep clinics to adopt fast-tracking for vocational drivers, and to gain support from fleet operators in order to give drivers the confidence to come forward.

As a direct result of the campaign some sleep clinics are looking at the four week treatment process, and successfully introducing it. Our aim is to make this a nationwide service for vocational drivers.

Read the campaign summary.