Launching the Primary Care Sleep Health Implementation Network

12 October 2022
From Alex Sweetman

Thank you to everyone that has been involved in the different activities of the Commonwealth Grant program over the past month.

This month we’re starting the update with a call-to-action! 

Translating evidence into practice can take many years. To facilitate this process in Australian primary care, we are establishing a Primary Care Sleep Health Implementation Network. 

This network will help make connections between ASA members and primary care clinicians who are interested in sleep and implementation trials (new sleep information, assessment and diagnostic tools, referral pathways, interventions, studies). ASA members with an interest in primary care implementation are encouraged to register here .

Latest news
In other grant program news from the past month, here a snapshot of what we’ve been up to.

  • Submitted an abstract on the management of sleep disorders in primary care to the Royal Australian College of Physicians Healthcare Leaders’ Summit, on behalf of the ASA and Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health.
  • Met with ASA nurses and researchers with an interest in nursing to discuss collaborative opportunities with different professional nursing organisations in Australia and New Zealand. 
  • Presented an insomnia webinar to the RACGP Psychological Medicine Specific Interest group. 
  • The ASA Primary Care Council organised a webinar on “Management of less common sleep disorders in general practice: narcolepsy, RLS, and REM sleep behaviour” that attracted more than 90 registrants from both members and non-members. 

The CEO and President joined forces with the Sleep Health Foundation to start raising the profile of sleep health with parliamentarians. There have been several positive meetings emphasising the need for action on the recommendations of the Parliamentary Inquiry into Sleep Health in Australia, particularly a joint policy proposal  to improve sleep health for doctors, nurses and midwives, and aged care workers.

The CEO and President also met with Department of Health executives to discuss the ASA’s application for Medicare funding for home sleep studies for paediatric patients. They also met with senior executives from NHMRC to discuss sleep research, and the Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Mental Health. 

This visit to Canberra was also an opportunity to catch up with a few members in the evening to hear how the sleep world is going locally, and to update them on the latest ASA news. 

In other advocacy news, the Clinical Committee has provided advice to the RACP on a proposal to mandate reporting of sleep disorders in heavy vehicle drivers in the ACT, and advice to the National Transport Commission for a review of the national rail safety worker guidelines. 

A small working group prepared a submission for the ACCC  on the regulation of infant sleep products, particularly inclined sleep products.

On the horizon
Some exciting activities are coming up over the next few months.

A new parliamentary inquiry into long COVID and repeated COVID infections has commenced, with submissions due in November. ASA is calling for input from members about their clinical experiences relating to patients with long COVID or repeated infections. In particular, the inquiry seeks to address six terms of reference which cover patients’ experiences, the impact on healthcare providers and also effects on the wider Australian health system from these conditions. Please send your comments to Marcia Balzer at [email protected] by Monday 31 October.  

Meetings with federal parliamentarians are continuing, and it’s intended to make another Canberra visit early in 2023 to keep spreading the message about sleep health and seeking support for the joint policy proposal .

Members of the Behavioural Management of Sleep Disorders Education Subcommittee will facilitate four online professional development sessions for attendees of the CBT-I workshops by Professors 
Michael Perlis and Donn Posner (November – December, 2022).

We are undertaking a small qualitative study with GPs to evaluate the acceptability and use of the new GP Obstructive Sleep Apnoea and Insomnia clinical guideline.

The application for Medicare funding for home sleep studies for children is an ongoing and lengthy piece of work with multiple stages of assessment. This will continue well into 2023.

If you’re interested in the Commonwealth Grant program, or have questions or feedback, I’d love to hear from you ([email protected]). 

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