Evening Gazette, Teeside – April 25

April 27, 2007

ME group blasts NHS

by Marie Levy, Evening Gazette


People with ME on Teesside have been deserted by the NHS according to a North-east campaign group.

ME North East claims 2,000 Teessiders are still waiting to receive 21st Century treatment five years after the chief medical officer at the Department of Health promised them their condition "would no longer be ignored".

"For two years, well thought-out proposals to introduce NHS specialist care for this devastating and debilitating illness have quite simply been dumped by the local Primary Care Trusts," said ME North East chief executive Jennifer Elliott.

"While all the other PCTs across the North-east and North Cumbria are now offering dedicated specialist services to people with ME, the PCTs on Teesside obviously think this group of severely ill patients are just not worth bothering about.

"That's a disgrace, because without early and correct diagnosis and an understanding by the patients of how to look after themselves, many people's health will get worse.

"Almost 500 of these patients are children, who can be robbed of their lives and schooling by ME."

The chronic neurological condition can cause severe and debilitating fatigue, painful muscles and joints, disordered sleep, gastric disturbances, and poor memory and concentration.

"There are a small number of doctors and consultants with the expertise who support the need for extra services locally but they are unable to see many more ME patients themselves because they are already so busy," said Mrs Elliott.

"The PCTs on Teesside tell us they have a small contract to send patients to Leeds – but it's too far for many people to travel, particularly for those too ill to leave their own homes.

"If people live on Teesside and they have ME, they're losing out in the postcode lottery for NHS Care."

A spokeswoman for Teesside's PCTs said: "Unfortunately the bid that we made to the Department of Health to develop Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME services was unsuccessful, despite working with ME North East on the application."

* For more information on ME Support in Cleveland contact Mr Franklin on 01642 324994.

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