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Sleep medicine referrals

Information for families

The children’s sleep service at Evelina London Children's Hospital:

The majority of sleep-related problems and symptoms in children and young people can be assessed, diagnosed and treated by either:

  • doctors working in general practice (primary care)
  • consultant children's doctors (paediatricians) working in general or community services or child and adolescent mental health services (secondary care).

Referrals to our service usually need to come from consultants working in secondary care, after an initial assessment has been made and treatment started.

We do not accept referrals directly from families, or from GPs.

We also do not usually accept direct referrals from doctors not working in the NHS (private practice paediatricians).

If you think your child has a sleep problem which may benefit from referral to our service, you should discuss with your GP or doctor in the first instance.

Information for professionals

Referral source

We are a specialist tertiary referral service, which aids in the management of children with complex sleep problems.

Referrals are usually only accepted from NHS consultant paediatricians, in general, community or child and adolescent mental health services. This is because a significant proportion of sleep problems in children can be identified and managed successfully at a primary or secondary care level.

Children can be referred for an initial assessment up to the age of 16.

New referrals of young people aged 17 or over should usually be made to the adult sleep medicine department at Guy's Hospital.

To make a referral, download and fill in the referral checklist for sleep medicine (PDF 1.29Mb) and email to:

Referral for diagnostic tests only

We offer a comprehensive range of diagnostic sleep investigations for children and young people.

Clinicians within Evelina London can request these directly via the EPR system.

External referrals for diagnostic investigations (only which cannot be done by local services) should be made by referral letter in the first instance stating the background history and investigation required.

In some cases, referral for diagnostic investigation only may not be appropriate and outpatient assessment may be more suitable. We will discuss this with referring clinicians.

Outpatient clinic assessment

After a referral is accepted, children and their families are offered an initial one hour new patient appointment in either the general paediatric sleep clinic (majority of patients) or the paediatric narcolepsy/hypersomnia clinic (selected minority of patients). Following this, an opinion and recommendations for management are made.

Patients will be appointed to the next available new patient appointment in the relevant clinic, and not to a specific consultant.

Diagnostic investigations may be carried out as part of the assessment. This may be done before the first outpatient appointment, or discussed and arranged after the initial assessment.

Waiting times

Our assessment service is currently receiving high levels of demand.

The current waiting time for new general paediatric sleep clinic assessment appointments is up to six months.

Families are usually first contacted around six to eight weeks before the offered appointment date. 

Follow-up appointments

Follow-up appointments within the service are limited.

The majority of children seen in the service are not offered long-term follow-up appointments.

It is therefore essential that all children referred to the sleep service have active follow-up at secondary care level (for example general or community paediatrics, or CAMHS) with a named paediatric consultant.

This is for three main reasons:

  1. Management of complex sleep problems often involves optimisation of management of all other existing medical problems which may impact on sleep. Sleep quality may be adversely affected by symptoms of a wide range of common (and less common) paediatric conditions, including but not limited to asthma, eczema, reflux, epilepsy, autism or ADHD. It is essential that these conditions are identified and managed where present.
  2. Following initial assessment, recommendations for further management may include the use of medication. In general, the service aims to manage children without medication where possible but in some children this may be required. Medications used to affect sleep in children are often ones which GPs are less able to prescribe. Prescriptions therefore often need to be provided from secondary care. We are very happy to provide input into discussions about medication prescription, adjustment and review where required, for medications which have been recommended following clinic attendance. Medications will only be supplied directly from Evelina London in exceptional circumstances.
  3. For many children, even in those with complex medical backgrounds, behavioural intervention and modification is the foundation of improving sleep quality. Unfortunately we have limited capacity to offer ongoing behavioural support to all of the families that are seen in the clinic and therefore have to ask that behavioural interventions are supported locally.

A selected group of children and families may be referred to our advanced sleep workshop.

Our priority is to offer assessment appointments, to provide appropriate access to specialised diagnostic investigations and to offer recommendations regarding management to referring secondary care paediatricians, for the children most likely to benefit from our service.

Where follow-up is offered, this will usually be at a 12 month interval, with ongoing management and follow-up continuing primarily at secondary care level.

Where the above points are not possible, then we are likely to be of limited help to children and families referred into the service.


Please note that due to the high pressure on the service, if a confirmed appointment is not attended without prior cancellation, your patient will be discharged from the waiting list and a new referral will be required.


Referral contacts

Referrals for outpatient assessment or diagnostic investigations should be sent to:

Email: gst-tr.PaediatricSleepSecretaries@nhs.net

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