A NEW clinic in Spalding is helping people to sleep easier in their beds.
The £50,000 Ear, Nose and Throat diagnostic suite has been set up at the town’s Johnson Community Hospital to give easier access to specialist help for people who suffer from sleep apnoea.
The clinic is an outreach of the Snoring Disorders Centre based at Pilgrim Hospital in Boston and is the work of sleep specialist Michael Oko.
He said: “The whole of the East of England is currently under-served in this therapy area and people were having to travel long distances for diagnosis and treatment in Boston.
“Now the people of south Lincolnshire have an easily accessible sleep service, and the clinic is also easier to reach for patients from further afield.
“It is all about delivering patient-focused care.”
Mr Oko said up to four per cent of the adult population suffer from sleep apnoea, which is often undiagnosed.
The condition, which is a disrupted breathing pattern during sleep caused by a closing of the upper airways, prevents sufferers from getting a good night’s sleep and is linked to serious medical conditions such as diabetes and hypertension.
Sufferers are usually permanently tired, resulting in a reduced quality of life and a greatly increased risk of being involved in a road traffic accident – in a recent survey by road safety charity Brake one in seven drivers were found to have sleep apnoea.
Mr Oko said: “If you suspect that you or a relative may have sleep apnoea I strongly advise going to see your GP who can refer you to a sleep clinic for diagnosis.”
So far, the Spalding clinic has offered appointments to existing patients of the Boston clinic on Thursday afternoons, but this is due to be extended to new patients from September, when an extra session will be provided on a Saturday.
Mr Oko said the Snoring Disorder Centre places a strong emphasis on patient satisfaction, which is monitored via interactive touch screen technology.
From April 2010 to April 2011, Mr Oko saw 383 patients and on average 96 per cent were very satisfied with the service they received.
Spalding patient Stuart Ruskin said: “It has been fantastic to have this service closer to home. I live in Spalding so it’s a massive saving on travelling time. The treatment for me has been amazing and I would encourage anyone who suspects they may have sleep apnoea to visit their GP.”