So says the OSAS Partnership Group following a recent court case where a forklift truck driver was jailed for two years for causing death by dangerous driving after a collision with cyclist Andy Charlton despite doctor’s advice not to drive because of his obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome (OSAS).
In March, the OSA Partnership Group launched the Four Week Wait campaign to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries on UK roads by calling for fast-tracked medical treatment of vocational drivers who have the condition.
The group, a collective set up to raise awareness of the condition, has been campaigning to make it easier for those who drive for a living, and who may have the condition, to come forward to receive treatment and to expedite such treatment so that the maximum wait is no longer than four weeks.
Since the launch of the campaign, the group has worked with the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) and consequently NICE has updated its Clinical Knowledge Summaries (CKS) to suggest that GPs who have patients presenting with symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Syndrome (OSAS), where there is concern about job security, communicate with the local sleep centre to request diagnosis and treatment within four weeks.
John Stradling, a member of the OSA Partnership Group and author of the campaign paper, said: “It is so important that doctors and patients take this condition more seriously, understand its impact, and provide or accept appropriate advice where necessary.
“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. This is why our campaign is so important in reducing the fear of seeking help and encouraging drivers to get the treatment that will allow them to drive safely (and considerably benefit their quality of life).”
Jenny Powley, corporate sales director of RAC Business – a member of the OSA Partnership Group, added: “The fact is the country and its economic development depends on the millions of commercial and fleet drivers that take to the roads every day, whether they are HGV drivers making deliveries or company car drivers attending sales meetings.
“As such it is vital that all drivers are aware of the symptoms of this potentially devastating condition and have access to medical support and treatment as quickly as possible.”