Worcestershire NHS ‘can’t offer extra help to ME sufferers’

May 18, 2010

From the Worcester News, 11 May 2010 (Story by James Connell)

HEALTH bosses have ruled out extra posts to help people with ME in the immediate future because of financial pressures.

Paul Bates, chief executive of NHS Worcestershire, wrote to leaders at the Worcestershire ME Support Group about the future of NHS services for people with the debilitating condition, also called chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

Mr Bates said: “Dr Mark Roberts has also been in touch with me expressing concerns about the service which can be offered to CFS/ME sufferers and the increasing pressures on all the team involved.

“He was seeking additional posts but I have had to be completely open and reply that the scale of the financial challenges before us are such that new developments are very unlikely for a long while.” The trust has to save £60 million by 2013/14 through making the NHS more efficient, slashing bureaucracy and by cutting management jobs in IT, finance and health and safety.

He said: “In many of our services we are going to have to find ways of being more efficient and productive, and will have to ensure that we prioritise care for those who need it most.”

Mr Bates also said work was underway to improve access to psychological therapies and to explore whether this would be of benefit to people with ME/CFS.

Ian Logan, aged 63, of Church Lane, Martley, near Worcester, has battled ME/CFS for 20 years, was forced to give up his job because of it and has been racked with flu-like symptoms, aches, pains and general fatigue.

He said: “This doesn’t go far enough or do enough for people with ME and CFS. We are treated as the poor relation every time. The team as it is is too small.”

Mr Logan, chairman of the Worcestershire ME Support Group, said the service was a lifeline for people with the condition.

Mr Logan said there were concerns about what would happen to the service if Sue Gordon-Saner, a specialist occupational therapist, ret-ired although Mr Bates said in his letter that she is not planning to retire in the immediate future.

Mr Logan also has concerns about psychological therapies being offered to those with ME/CFS and said it was his view that a physician would be of more use in helping the physical symptoms such as aches and pains, which can cause sleeplessness for sufferers.

He said that while some people might benefit from being told their illness was not as a result of depression, psychology was irrelevant to people with ME/CFS. There are now theories in the United States that ME/CFS may be linked to the rare retrovirus XMRV.

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