Nurses from Yeovil Hospital’s Sleep Service enjoyed an extremely successful start to the new support group for patients with Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA), this week (Wednesday 4 May).

Speaking about the event, Specialist Nurse Fran Macdonald said: “The event was the first of its kind and we really had no idea how many people to expect. We had taken on feedback from our patients and really felt there was a need for such a group but we were absolutely shocked by the number of people who attended.

“We saw between 50 and 60 people and everyone was really enthusiastic. I was actually lost for words for a few seconds (astonishing for people who know me)!”

Sleep Apnoea is a serious condition where the muscles in the throat relax during sleep, causing the sufferer to stop breathing temporarily. If untreated, it can occur hundreds of times a night, leading to daytime fatigue and other serious health problems. Once diagnosed, it can be easily treated.

Fran added: “Patients who use continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) to manage their Sleep Apnoea often tell us they feel daunted and isolated, so this group is really reducing those feelings and about sharing their experiences with others who understand.

“There are so many undiagnosed people that could really benefit from the treatment, so it’s really important to raise awareness and ensure patients have the support they need.”

The support group will be held on the first Wednesday of every other month, with the next session being held on Wednesday 6 July at South Petherton Hospital, from 6.15pm to 7.45pm. The invitation to the group is for anyone affected; whether they have a recent diagnosis, have been managing their condition for a long time, or think they may have symptoms and want to learn more.

There will be lots of help and advice from the specialist staff of the Sleep Service team, as well as invited guests, including speakers talking about weight-loss, which often improves symptoms, and information about new, innovative equipment as it becomes available.

There will also be the opportunity to meet others living with the condition and share experiences over a cup of tea or coffee.

The launch of the new Sleep Service Support group is an example of how the hospital is starting to offer more specialist services for healthcare in the community – one of the aspirations of the south Somerset Symphony programme.

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