Patients with a suspected sleep disorder can now be tested from their own home in Corby instead of travelling more than 25 miles.
Local patients with suspected obstructive sleep apnoea will no longer need to sleep overnight at clinics in Northampton or Leicester for an initial diagnosis.
Instead they are being offered WatchPAT, a take home sleep test which is worn like a wrist-watch, with no need for belts, wires or nasal cannulas.
Corby Clinical Commissioning Group’s GP member Dr Nathan Spencer said: “Obstructive sleep apnoea can cause chronic sleep deprivation and happens when the muscles in the throat relax so much that the upper airways narrow, and the person can stop breathing from a few seconds to minutes.
“Currently most patients suspected of this condition are referred to a sleep clinic for further diagnostics that may involve a sleep study.
“Service provision for this service is limited and for Corby the nearest centres are Northampton and Leicester.
“Due to the demand placed on these clinics patients are also often left waiting for long periods before confirmation or exclusion of diagnosis.”
The device is a portable diagnostic device which uses finger based physiology and technology to enable accurate testing.
The equipment records oxygen levels, breathing movements, heart rate and snoring through the night.
The potential gains of the pilot are:
- Quicker start to treatment for patients diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnoea
- Prompt and accurate initial test
- Reduced overall numbers of referrals to sleep clinic
- Increased proportion of appropriate referrals to sleep clinic
- Potentially reduced numbers of PSG required in secondary care
- Improved awareness of the condition amongst GPs, healthcare assistants and practice nurses.
Patients with a positive diagnosis will then be referred appropriately to the sleep clinic for further management.
Dr Spencer added: “Undiagnosed, the condition is closely associated with serious health problems including hypertension, diabetes, stroke, heart disease and even cancer.
“It can not only shorten life expectancy, but it can also lead to road collisions caused by undiagnosed sleepy drivers.
“It is also implicated in causing resistant depression.
“If we cannot sleep adequately or properly we cannot function properly and the impact of this long wait and period of uncertainty has a huge impact on patients as they are usually advised not to drive thus impacting on both day to day living and potentially livelihood.
“The pilot means that we can offer a much-improved service for the people of Corby who we are here to serve.”
The practices involved are Great Oakley Medical Centre, Woodsend Medical Centre, Lakeside Surgeries and Studfall Partnership.