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Health trust 'among worst offenders' over lack of spending on ME patients

Friday 16 March 2012


From This Is Derbyshire's Derby Telegraph:


Dr. Bruce Laurence
Dr Bruce Laurence,
NHS Derbyshire County's
deputy director of public health.

Health trust 'among worst offenders' over lack of spending on ME patients

Derby Telegraph
Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A CALL has been made for more NHS cash to be spent on people suffering from a mysterious illness which causes chronic tiredness.

NHS Derbyshire County is among 24 local health authorities to have been criticised by a national charity for spending too little on specialist services for people with ME.

Medics are yet to discover what causes the incurable condition, which is also known as chronic fatigue syndrome and affects around 250,000 people in Britain.

Now Action for ME has revealed that NHS Derbyshire County, which pays for healthcare in the county outside Derby, spent £44 per head on specialist services in the year from April 2010. It was among 24 health authorities which spent £50 or less per ME patient. Sir Peter Spencer, chief executive of Action for ME, said NHS Derbyshire County was among the country's "worst offenders" when it came to a lack of funding.

He said: "I know of no other illness with such a devastating impact on so many people which has so little money spent on scientific research or the provision of specialist healthcare."

But Dr Bruce Laurence, NHS Derbyshire County's deputy director of public health, said patients were well supported.

He said: "We have committed to spending £200,000 on the specialist chronic fatigue syndrome service based at Royal Derby Hospital in the next financial year. This offers outpatient appointments, follow-up appointments, therapy sessions, group sessions, home visits and telephone follow-ups to sufferers.

"We also fund a CFS network, support services in the north of the county and have given significant amounts of money over the past five years to pay for treatments, therapies and assessments not routinely funded on the NHS. And many people are cared for by their GP rather than through specialist services funded by us."

Across the country, the amount of cash spent on specialist services per patient ranged from nothing whatsoever in 14 areas of the country to £382 in Birmingham and Solihull.

NHS Derbyshire County's sister organisation, NHS Derby City, spent £76. This was above the national average of £64.

The Derby Telegraph reported last month how University of Derby graduate Lois Owen died after her weight plummeted to just 3st 2lbs because of chronic fatigue syndrome and anorexia. She was looked after by Derby's NHS and her family said they were satisfied with her care.

Sarah Finch, of Alvaston, who has chronic fatigue syndrome, said she attended a course run by Derby NHS to help people suffering from the condition.

The 39-year-old said: "The sessions ran for nine weeks and were good. But I'd done a lot of research myself about the condition, so the information wasn't that helpful. The money should go towards providing additional services and long-term support."


The above, with comments, originally appeared here.



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