Letter to ‘The Times’: fears for ME patients in the new NHS, 7 March 2011

From ‘The Times’ letters page, 7 March 2011

ME patients at risk from NHS reforms

Sir, In 2010 the All-Party Parliamentary Group on ME inquiry into NHS service provision for CSF/ME found unacceptable variations in access to hospital-based services. It also found major failures to meet the needs of children and the most severely affected patients. Placing the power to decide priorities for healthcare provision in the hands of GPs can only make matters worse for this vulnerable and greatly neglected group. As the inquiry found, many GPs do not recognise ME and some even deny it exists.

The NHS that is being proposed would lead to a parochial and fragmented approach to services. There appears to be a continuing reluctance to do anything about local funders, commissioners and service providers when they are failing certain groups of patients with chronic conditions and, with the dismantling of the Strategic Health Authorities, there is no body to monitor regional and supra-regional services, nor is it clear who will monitor the care provided by GPs.

Many patients have expressed deep concerns about the effects the changes will have upon their community. There has been no consultation with them or their representatives. They simply know that the new NHS could well be a disaster for them and fear that they will fall through the net when providers compete for the more lucrative services.

COUNTESS OF MAR
Chairman, Forward-ME
DR VANCE SPENCE
Chairman, ME Research UK
SIR PETER SPENCER
Chief Executive, Action for ME
DR CHARLES SHEPHERD
Hon Medical Adviser, ME Association
JANICE KENT
Director, reMEmber
MARY-JANE WILLOWS
Chief Executive, AYME
TANYA HARRISON
Chairman, BRAME