IMAGE DESCRIPTION: An image of an anaesthetist with two circular images; one of Dr Charles Shepherd and the other the RCoA Anaesthesia on Air podcast. The title reads: RCoA: Podcast: The perioperative management of patients with ME/CFS and Long Covid. The ME Association Logo (bottom right)

RCoA: Podcast: The perioperative management of patients with ME/CFS and Long Covid

The Royal College of Anaesthetists (RCoA) podcast accompanied the launch of an information leaflet produced with the ME Association and people with ME/CFS.

“In this episode of Anaesthesia on Air, Dr Anton Krige, RCoA Clinical Lead for ME/CFS, talks with Dr Charles Shepherd from the ME Association and Helen Baxter, a patient advocate for ME patients, about the College's latest patient information project ME/CFS and anaesthesia. They explore this poorly understood medical condition and the strategies that anaesthetists will find useful in managing these patients in the perioperative period.”

Transcript extracts:

“Welcome to this episode of Anaesthesia On Air, the podcast from the Royal College of Anaesthetists. My name is Anton Krecher and I'm a consultant intensivist and anaesthetist at Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital and an honorary professor with the local medical school. I'm also heavily involved in research within the NHS and the management of patients undergoing high risk major surgery. 

“Today, we're going to be discussing the topic of ME and its implications for anaesthesia and how a patient resource document was generated by the Royal College of Anaesthetists along this topic. I'm joined by Dr. Charles Shepherd, and Medical Advisor to the ME Association and Helen Baxter, an advocacy worker for the 25% ME group. 

“The background to this work is that over a period of years, a Royal College of Anaesthetists had been approached by multiple me sufferers, inquiring as to how anaesthesia would impact their ME and the information around this had been extremely limited.”


“I've been a consultant anaesthetist for over 25 years. My personal journey involved having one of my three children, my middle child, develop very severe ME when she was eight years old. And that lasted for three and a half to four years, with her losing most of her primary school years spent at home with homeschooling, etc. She's thankfully now back to full health and absolutely thriving.” 

Consultant Anaesthetist Anton Krecher

“I do recognise the experiences we heard in the focus group. People's experiences of NHS care really does vary. I mean, some do receive good treatment and feel supported, but others really don't and their ME is quite often just dismissed.

“It's important to mention that some people with ME/CFS will have difficulty accessing primary care, let alone secondary care. And as we know, it can be hard to get a GP appointment, but that becomes much harder when you need a home visit and that can have a knock on effect. It can lead to people presenting late to primary care with symptoms, and the knock on effect of that is that they may require more complex surgery.

“It's worth saying that some GPs may never encounter someone with ME CFS, and medical education at both undergraduate and postgraduate level is woefully lacking.”

Helen Baxter, 25% ME Group

“I'd just like to say how grateful we are at the ME Association for working with the Royal College of Anaesthetists on preparing this patient information for people with ME.

“It's a very important precedent and as part of the NICE guideline and as part of a Department of Health initiative called the DHSC  Delivery Plan for people with ME CFS,  we're desperately trying to improve the medical education of health professionals on this subject.

“I think it's very important precedent to work together with patients, charities, and to produce this information.”

Dr Charles Shepherd, Honorary Medical Adviser to the ME Association
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