‘New help for ME sufferers in Norfolk and Suffolk’

November 13, 2009

From the Eastern Daily Press, 13 November 2009 (story by Hayley Mace)

Hundreds of people who suffer from a debilitating condition have been promised they will have access to care from a consultant from early next year.

Health bosses have pledged to improve the treatment and care of patients with ME and yesterday promised to have a consultant in place to cover Norfolk and Suffolk within the next three months.

NHS Norfolk is working with its partners in Suffolk and Great Yarmouth and Waveney to develop a new service for patients with Myalgic Encephalomylitis, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome.

Chris Humphris, deputy director of commissioning at NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney, told a joint scrutiny committee meeting in Lowestoft yesterday that instead of carrying out a proposed public consultation to shape the new service, it would be quicker to add to the existing service for the time being and get better facilities in place as soon as possible.

He said the existing community service did not provide enough help for all patients. “Our proposal is that we retain the existing services, making sure that they are working across the three NHS trusts, and provide an additional consultant-led service.

“Frankly, we should have already done that by now, so we want to get on with it quickly. We want to move forward because we are as frustrated as our patient representatives and colleagues that we are not making progress,” he said.

Patient representative Barbara Robinson welcomed the deadline of three months for the new service to be in place, but said there was still a great deal of work to be done to improve treatment for sufferers.

She said: “There needs to be alignment between the three NHS trusts in order for there to be an appropriate, cost-effective service, which meets patient needs.”

Mr Humphris said that once the new consultant was in place, a 12-month review would be carried out with patients and carers, which would inform any plans for further improvements to services.

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