Consultant occupational therapist Sue Pemberton, who has been clinical lead of the Leeds and West Yorkshire ME/CFS service for 22 years, has parted company with the NHS after a major review of the service.
The new clinical lead will be a liaison psychiatrist, Dr Hiroko Akagi.
There was no place for either Pemberton or consultant immunologist and allergist, Dr Philip Wood, following the service review. They have both set up a new business called The Yorkshire Fatigue Clinic.
In a statement released yesterday by the patient-run Leeds ME Network, Pemberton writes:
“I would like to personally thank everyone from the Leeds ME Network for the support they have given to the Leeds & West Yorkshire CFS/ME Service through the recent changes. From starting the service 22 years ago, I have always believed that the service should be shaped by the people who have the condition. Over the years there have been threats to the service, and it was always the patients' voice that saved it.
“Leeds & York Partnership Foundation NHS Trust has decided the service will now be heading in a new direction. Dr Hiroko Akagi, a skilled and experienced Liaison Psychiatrist, will be taking the Consultant Lead and I trust in her ability to maintain the standards that we have developed over the years.
“Sadly, LYPFT decided that the skills and expertise of a Consultant Physician and Consultant Occupational Therapist were no longer necessary to the service. However, both Dr Philip Wood (Consultant Immunologist and Allergist) and I believe that medical assessment and expertise in rehabilitation remain important for people with CFS/ME. We are therefore establishing the new Yorkshire Fatigue Clinic to provide patients with access to a range of health professionals to give you choice about what will help you in addressing this disabling condition.
For more information on the Yorkshire Fatigue Clinic, please see the new web site and information leaflet.”
The website is just the barest of bones at the moment but a contact phone number is given for the business.
In an unsigned statement which seems to have been written before the appointment of Dr Akagi became public knowledge, Leeds ME Network complain about the “terrible squandering of experience and ability” involved in the loss of Sue Pemberton.
And they quote lengthy feedback from Chris Butler, chief executive of the Leeds and York Partnership Trust, who said the review proposals were sent to all 477 people who were current service-users.