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Renewed call to fast-track sleep apnoea treatment for vocational drivers

A fresh call has been made for the Government to introduce fast-track medical treatment for vocational drivers suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Syndrome (OSAS).

It is estimated that up to 5% of the UK population suffers from undiagnosed Sleep Apnoea.

The condition affects approximately 5% of the population but often goes undiagnosed and can be a risk factor for road traffic accidents, as shown in 2006 by a lorry driver fell asleep at the wheel, killing another motorist.

Although Wrighton was initially charged with causing death by dangerous driving, the Crown Prosecution Service offered no evidence against him after it was revealed he suffers from Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Syndrome.

Following an emotional meeting between the lorry driver and the father of the young victim, a fresh call has been made for the Government to act to prevent other vocational drivers from facing the ‘life sentence’ of guilt that the driver concerned, Colin Wrighton, lives each day.

Nic Tweddell – father of victim Toby Tweddell, and his brother-in-law Seb Schmoller said: “We urge anyone who cares about this vital issue to write to their MP asking that they back the campaign. It takes only a few minutes, using service.”

The OSA Partnership Group is calling on the Department of Health to issue guidance to Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), hospitals and GPs to expedite treatment of vocational drivers with OSAS to enable driving again within a maximum of four weeks following first referral.

Professor John Stradling, a member of the OSA Partnership Group and author of the campaign paper, has spent his career working with sleep apnoea patients as a respiratory consultant in Oxford. He said: “In my experience vocational drivers are often the safest on our roads but those with OSAS have no control over their sleepiness. We also know that these drivers are reluctant to come forward with symptoms of OSAS for fear of losing their licence, and therefore their livelihood.

“Through the collaborative work our group has undertaken with the transport industry, we believe that by expediting treatment, we can reduce this fear and therefore encourage drivers to get the treatment that will allow them to drive safely (and considerably benefit their quality of life). In doing so, we can eliminate many unnecessary road traffic accidents, and ultimately reduce the number of serious injuries and fatalities.”

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Written by Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.

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