What’s happening to the ME/CFS service at the Royal Free Hospital in London?

Following our earlier reports about the future of the ME/CFS service at the Royal Free Hospital in London, the Camden New Journal carries the following story today. We are seeking clarification about what this means for patients with ME/CFS from the communications manager at the Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust.

From the Camden New Journal, 10 June 2010 (story by Richard Osley)

Health chiefs are to scrutinise what they spend on treating what they see as “low prior­ity” ailments and medical procedures.

A new policy will operate across north London health trusts to reduce treatments not deemed cost effective.

There are fears patients who are not considered “special ­cases” may have to wait longer or miss out on treatments such as dental implants and minor oral surgery. Help for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome will also be reviewed.

The policy was agreed by the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts in February and expands a list which was already in place in Camden and includes tonsil removals, carpal tunnel syndrome treatment and surgical treatment for sinusitis. 

The review does not mean that medical attention will not be dispensed, but it does mean patients will have to meet more stringent criteria before being referred through for treatment.

Lib Dem councillor John Bryant, chairman of the Town Hall’s Health Scrutiny Committee, said he wanted to see the proposals pass through a council review.

“My understanding is that this was a proposal from North Central London Commissioning Team, which covers five boroughs,” he said. 

“I am seeking an item on Health Scrutiny for NCL to send a representative to explain what is going on.”

An NHS Camden spokeswoman said: “Consultation on the implementation of the policy is being undertaken at local level by individual PCTs. In Camden the implementation of the Low Priority Treatment policy will not result in a significant change for most of the treatments listed in the policy. 

“Receipt of these treatments has long been regulated through the application of Ser­vice Access Criteria which uses similar clinical thresholds. 

“However, the LPT policy does represent a restriction to some treatments that are currently not covered by Camden’s current Service Access Criteria. Because the adoption of the LPT policy would represent a change in access to these services, NHS Camden has recently initiated discussions on the policy with Camden LINkS in order to consult with them on its implementation.”

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