A new guide to CFS/ME therapy and symptom management has been published this week by the health professionals who run the specialist NHS services.
The 32-page document, which discusses in some detail the drugs used to manage symptoms of the illness, is in stark contrast to the very much longer guideline published by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence in 2007 – in which drugs hardly got a look in.
Pacing – the coping technique which many people with M.E. rely on to balance their activity and rest requirements – has been omitted in favour of lashings of information about the value of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT).
The guide has been launched by the British Association for CFS/ME (Bacme), a voluntary organisation representing the clinicians and researchers involved in the specialist NHS services, following consultation with patients and some M.E. charities.
In a press release, Bacme chair Dr Alastair Miller, an infectious diseases consultant who leads the local service at Broadgreen Hospital in Liverpool. commented:
““The new guidelines meet a considerable need for a practical, clinical, treatment summary for all healthcare professionals working with patients suffering from this complex condition to follow. By bringing together specialists from different services and backgrounds, our guide provides a concise consensus for broader treatment; complementing existing documents such as NICE guidelines to develop something wider-reaching and more practical in everyday work.”
While this new guide focuses on the clinical needs of adults with the illness, Bacme say they may publish something in the future to help children and those severely affected.
Mary-Jane Willows, chief executive of the Association of Young People with ME who has worked closely with Bacme at their training days and conferences in Milton Keynes, commented: “All too often the experiences we hear from our young members and their families are those of being passed from one medical professional to another with very little understanding of what CFS/ME is and what it involves.
“Sadly, the result is often the condition worsening before the patient receives the treatment they so desperately need, in some cases ruling out recovery completely. But CFS/ME is a treatable condition, and we welcome these guidelines from BACME to provide much-needed practical guidance to all professionals responsible for the care of those in need.”
The guide, which can be downloaded HERE, will become a key constituent in Bacme's package of training materials.
Dr Hazel O'Dowd, a clinical psychologist who heads up the Bristol service, writes about the new guide for the Action for ME website HERE.