Supply chain crisis leads to breathing equipment shortage - Google confirms that sleep is a big concern - Check out the redesigned Sleeping Disorders Centre website - Sleeping Disorders Centre moves to online clinics - Try the Snore Centre Mobile App
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Snore Centre eNewsletter October 2021

Supply chain crisis leads to breathing equipment shortage

Delays to delivery of equipment have meant hundreds of patients across the UK with conditions including motor neurone disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and obstructive sleep apnoea are unable to be discharged safely and provided with vital equipment in a timely manner the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) reports.

Patients with these conditions are issued with CPAP and non-invasive ventilation (NIV) to use at home. As hospitals cannot discharge them safely without a machine, patients are spending longer in hospital, leading to greater pressures on beds and staff.

Members of the CSP are reporting two-week delays before patients can leave hospital due to shortages of respiratory machines or accessories. This follows reports this week that delayed discharges are putting pressure on beds in trusts in Cheshire and Merseyside, Blackpool, South East London, Gloucestershire, and Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.

Those living with the conditions at home are also suffering, with one trust reporting 48 patients on a waiting list for a machine who are not only constantly fatigued but are running an increased risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke without the vital treatment.

Without a breathing machine, those with jobs involving operating machinery or driving are too tired to work. Reports are emerging that although the NHS prioritises those with an occupational need, the breathing machine shortage is worsening HGV driver shortages across the country. Though no patient deaths have been reported as a result of the shortage, physios have raised alarms over the lack of machines severely affecting some patients’ quality of life.

Deliveries have been delayed by the ‘perfect storm’ of computer chip and container shortages, post-Brexit chaos at ports across the UK and overseas manufacturing shutdowns due to Covid-19.

Some shipments of breathing machines have being held by UK customs for several weeks with HMRC unable to advise on when equipment will be released. This was on top of shortages caused by one of the nation’s largest suppliers, Philips Respironics, issuing a worldwide field safety notice on its CPAP machines in June because of a foam part that might degrade and become toxic, potentially causing cancer. A spokesperson for Philips Respironics said they had not yet started its repair and replacement programme in the UK, which was due ‘imminently’.

The Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Respiratory Care (ACPRC) said reports from members indicated the scale of the problem is large and growing.

As there are few UK based manufacturers of the breathing equipment suitable for use in the home setting, supplies have to be sourced from overseas. Supply chain issues have been creating delays of delivery of this equipment and the associated consumables for many months worsened by the pandemic and the Suez Canal blockage.

A spokesperson for Philips Respironics said the pandemic had sparked increased demand for respiratory products, patient monitoring solutions, as well as telehealth solutions.  The spokesperson added: ‘The supply chain issues/disruptions that we are experiencing mainly involve electronic component shortages (e.g. computer chips) and shipment capacity (port congestion and container shortages). We are working with suppliers and governments to ensure we minimize the impact in the healthcare supply chain and prioritize life-saving modalities like ours.’

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Google confirms that sleep is a big concern

The numbers tend to be vast in the world of sleep medicine, with predicted numbers of undiagnosed sleep apnea patients ranging in the millions. Another predictor of sleep disorders comes via Google searches, with an Amerisleep analysis revealing more than 237 million sleep-related queries over a period of four years. 

“We found that Americans turn to Google to find answers about sleep issues almost five million times every month,” writes McKenzie Hyde of Amerisleep. “In fact, the world’s biggest search engine may actually know more about us than our own doctors do. The more frequently a term appears in a Google search, the more important it is to a significant number of searchers.” 

The Amerisleep analysis concluded:

  • Roughly 1 million sleep-related searches happened annually on Google.
  • Sleep apnea was by far the most frequently Googled term in 2019, with more than 17 million searches—outpacing the second most popular search by 25%. Massachusetts residents search for apnea-related terms more often than any other state, and Arkansas the least.
  • Insomnia remains a nationwide concern, with nearly 13 million searches. The majority of those are in California, whose residents searched for related terms more than twice as often as Montana (the state least concerned about the inability to sleep).
  • Night sweats are a particular concern in New England, while western states are the least concerned about them.
  • Californians are much more interested in sleep paralysis than residents of any other state. Even when the population is taken into account, California residents searched terms related to “sleep paralysis” 10% more often than the next most interested state (Texas) and twice as often as residents of Montana.

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Check out the redesigned Sleeping Disorders Centre website 

Sleeping Disorders Centre moves to online clinics

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 attending hospitals and clinics in person has been difficult and potentially involves the risk of catching or spreading coronavirus. Therefore, the Sleeping Disorders Centre's services are now available  online for both NHS and private patients.

We are able to deliver the same high quality service either via telephone or online, organising all aspects of care remotely: including sleep studies, diagnosis, CPAP fitting, delivery, maintenance and long-term care.

This means that people suffering from obstructive sleep apnoea and other sleep-related and ENT conditions are still able to access first class care from Mr. Oko, Professor Dhillon and the rest of our clinical team. Our mission to raise awareness of the suffering caused by sleep apnoea, and enable those affected to live normal lives through fast diagnosis and effective treatment, is still continuing depite the challenges of the pandemic.

The Sleeping Disorders Centre's private clinic has moved from Harley Street to The London Digestive Centre, in partnership with HCA Healthcare. All appointments with Mr. Oko are taking place by phone or online, and in person appointments continuing with Prof. Dhillon.

Contact details

Private patients
The London Digestive Centre
41 Welbeck Street
Telephone: 020 3797 7248



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