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Driving & Sleepiness Campaign

We are delighted to report that the at a meeting on Thursday 12th October 2017 of the Medical Advisory Panel of Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency  (DVLA) have agreed to change their 2016 wording for advice to patients and professionals about driving and sleepiness.

The initiative to clarify the previously difficult to interpret words used by DVLA, will mean that obstructive sleep apnoea patients who are at risk from driving whilst sleepy will stop driving until it is safe to do so. Furthermore, patients with OSA who were not sleepy will not be stopped from driving.

The OSA Partnership was led by Gillian Gibbons and Prof John Stradling, but including key stakeholder organisations including healthcare professionals (AHCS, ARTP, BSS & BTS) and patient groups (SATA, BLF). The announcement was first made public in a presentation on behalf of the partnership by AHCS President, Brendan Cooper last Friday at the BSS Conference in Brighton.

ARTP had importantly produced a quick survey from ARTP sleep departments about the poor communication from DVLA when they changed their guidance in 2016.  This was an important mainstay of the strategy to influence change.

The Academy, via its contacts with health ministers and CSOs in England, Scotland and Wales were able to ensure pressure was applied on DVLA to firstly meet with the partnership and then tackle and solve this problem.

AHCS President, Prof Brendan Cooper stated;

“This case is a superb example of how the Academy can work with professional bodies to successfully alter inappropriate government legislation using good scientific argument.  By having a scientific “One Voice” which speaks in harmony with other healthcare professionals and patient groups we are able to influence changes for patient benefit.  The confusion that the DVLA interpretation of the EU Directive caused was making patients unnecessarily lose their driving licences and potentially their livelihoods.  As healthcare scientists we are pleased to support patients and colleagues in this way now – and of course in the future”

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