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Meg Munn MP - Sheffield Heeley's voice in Parliament | Welcome
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Minister pledges to tackle sleepy truckers

Monday, October 26, 2009

Heeley MP Meg Munn arranged a meeting with Transport Minister Paul Clark to discuss the issue of undiagnosed Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA). This condition was first brought to Meg’s attention by her constituent Seb Schmoller, whose nephew, Toby, was killed by a LGV driver with undiagnosed OSA, falling asleep at the wheel and crashing his lorry into a line of cars. Meg was accompanied by experts in the field of Respiratory Medicine, her constituent Seb Schmoller and other members of Toby’s family.  


Suffers of OSA experience interruptions in their breathing patterns during sleep. Due to lack of oxygen, sufferers come out of a deep sleep to a lighter sleep or are briefly awake, in order for normal breathing to begin again. People are often unaware that they are not getting a proper nights sleep, and this can lead to suffers feeling extremely tired in the day.


Obesity is a major cause of OSA with excess fat putting larger weight and pressure on the throat. The lifestyle of LGV and PSV drivers tend to lead to greater risks of obesity, and so in turn OSA.


Paul Clark agreed that undiagnosed OSA is a greater danger on the roads of the UK than previously acknowledged, and that there is an increased likelihood of LGV and PSV drivers suffering from the condition. The Minister advised that there will be changes to the current D4 medical form that drivers complete, to make all those involved in the medical process more aware of the dangers of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea.


Meg said:


“I am delighted that the minister has acknowledged the importance of OSA and the risk it causes on the roads of the UK, as well as the increased risk in LGV and PSV drivers. The Department for Transport has confirmed that there will be investigations into the new evidence that supports the argument of this risk.


 I am extremely pleased that there will be an updated and revised production of the D4 medical forms that LGV applicants and doctors have to complete to gain their licence, to further safe guard against OSA.  


Dr Steven Bianchi, a Consultant and Honorary Senior Lecturer in Respiratory Medicine at Royal Hallamshire Hospital said: 


“The recognition of the increased prevalence of sleep apnoea amongst Class 2 drivers compared to the general population will be helpful in stressing the importance of addressing this diagnosis in this specific group to drivers, haulage companies, general practitioners and the wider public.”


Dr Dev Banerjee, a Consultant in Respiratory and Sleep Physician from Birmingham’s Heartland Hospital said:


“I am hopeful with Paul Clark’s support and any future legislative change that may come about, that the number of deaths on the UK roads will improve.”


Seb Schmoller said:


"I am extremely please that the Department for Transport will alter the medical examination process to ensure that doctors are actively on the look out for the condition when vocational drivers apply for or renew their licences." 

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