Fermanagh South Tyrone Sinn Féin Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

McGahan fears as sleep clinic waiting times lengthen

Published: 15 June, 2015

Sinn Féin MLA Bronwyn McGahan has spoken of her fears around waiting times for sleep clinic patients and has called on the Health Minister to work on reducing them, before patients' symptoms deteriorate.

Following a question to the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, Ms McGahan explains,

"At the end of February 2015, there were a total of 555 patients across the North waiting for a diagnostic sleep study. 130 of those patients were in the Southern Trust. 61 of which had been waiting up to 3 weeks, 60 patients had been waiting up to 6 weeks and 9 of those had been waiting up to 9 weeks.

"Similarly, in the Western Trust there were a total of 83 patients waiting for appointments. 59 of those have been waiting up to 3 weeks, 21 of those have been waiting up to 6 weeks and 3 of them have been waiting up to 9 weeks.

"Patients are waiting for a number of weeks for a range of tests and observations, many of these are yet to be diagnosed and are going weeks on end without treatment, which can result in the condition deteriorating and unnecessary distress for the patient.

The Fermanagh South Tyrone MLA continues,

"If left untreated sleep conditions such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease and adult asthma. Additionally, people with sleep apnea are up to five times more likely than normal sleepers to have traffic accidents.

"When the issue of sleep clinic patients forced to wait long periods of time for an appointment was raised to the former Health Minister, he outlined staffing issues as the main problem, stating that there are only a finite number of experts on this issue at consultant level.

"Although not as common as some ailments, from the statistics, it is obvious that sleeping disorders are relatively common and can be quite as dangerous. Therefore the current health minister needs to treat it as such and work to ensure the waiting lists across the North are alleviated, before patients' conditions deteriorate." ENDS