ME North East’s campaign for an NHS service for 2,000 people with ME/CFS on Teeside has been taken up by Ashok Kumar, MP for Middlesborough South and East Cleveland.
He asked in Parliament how many patients with ME from Teeside were referred to treatment centres elsewhere in the UK, what specialist services were provided on Teeside and what assessment had been made of the adequacy of local services.
A health minister replied that the information was not held centrally. It was up to local primary care trusts to commission services and for strategic health authorities to make sure they were well planned, of good quality and met the needs of local people.
Jennifer Elliott, chief executive of ME North East, said PCTs on Teeside had a contract to refer patients to the Leeds Fatigue Service but GPs had not referred anyone there, probably because of the distance involved. And they were reluctant to sign up to a contract with the County Durham service, which seemed reluctant to take individual referrals.
ME North East had made a business case for a service in Teeside for the past two years, and would continue to do so. “We do try to encourage our members to make themselves known to their GPs and ask for a referral to prove evidence of need,” said Jennifer.