MEA Website Survey: Why are we asking about doctor-patient relations in this month’s survey?


Russell Fleming, Content Manager, ME Association.

We already know that the way in which GPs deal with patients who have (or may have) ME/CFS varies considerably. Some GPs are helpful, informed about the illness and show appropriate empathy and understanding.

Many are less helpful – often because they are uncertain about both diagnosis and management. Sadly, some GPs remain very dismissive of ME/CFS as an illness and may even refuse to accept that it exists as a genuine clinical condition despite the evidence supporting its’ validity.

Please vote in the MEA website survey
You will find it located on the homepage of this website. It appears about halfway down the page, just below the ME Biobank promotion.
Dr Charles Shepherd, Hon. Medical Adviser, ME Association.

The way in which GPs and health professionals deal with the diagnosis of ME/CFS, and the management of their patients, comes into many of the discussions that are taking place at NICE in relation to preparation of the new clinical guideline on ME/CFS.

We decided that this was a good time to obtain some up to date feedback on doctor-patient relations. Dr Shepherd will then feed this information into the discussions that are taking place at NICE with regard to the new clinical guideline on ME/CFS.

Ask Dr Shepherd

Dr Shepherd will be dropping in on the ME Association Facebook page this week to take note of comments that are being posted. He will also try to deal with any questions that people have on doctor-patient relationships.

The ME Association has an information leaflet that covers ‘How to deal with your Doctor’.  This can be downloaded free or viewed online during February to link in with this survey and the debate that we hope will occur on our social media platforms.

Help us to keep GPs up to date with ME/CFS

ME Awareness Week will take place from Monday 11th to Sunday 17th May and we need your help…

We desperately want to increase the awareness of ME/CFS and get more information out to the medical profession, in particular to frontline GPs.

There are still so many that do not understand this illness and ME Awareness Week gives us the opportunity to improve this.

Please send us your GPs name and address so that we can send them a copy of ME Essential magazine and the new MEA Clinical and Research guide (which will be available in April).

Contact information should be sent to: caroline.cavey@meassociation.org.uk by 15th March to ensure your GP receives the next magazine which will focus on ME Awareness Week.

The Changing Face of General Practice

How have recent changes to general practice affected the service you receive from your GP?

The NHS is seriously underfunded and there are major problems with GP recruitment. GP consultations have risen by 15% over the past five years and GPs are dealing with far more patients with complicated and long-term conditions like ME/CFS.

Many people do not have a ‘family’ GP anymore – who knew all the members of the family and would talk to their patients face to face rather than making notes while looking at a computer screen. Today you are more likely to see whichever GP is available – who may not know anything about your previous medical history and can only briefly look at your medical notes.

There may be a team structure at the surgery, and you will then see the most appropriate health professional. A practice nurse may be able to help with smaller/simpler problems and will refer to a GP if necessary. It is often easier to get an appointment with a nurse. Some GPs specialise in particular illnesses and it may be possible to ask for that GP. But this is likely to mean a longer wait.

In some places, you may have to wait a week or more for a routine appointment. If there is difficulty in arranging a surgery visit, you could ask for a telephone appointment instead. If you are dealing with an unresolved problem, it’s sensible to try and see the same GP. If you feel that you need more time, ask for a double appointment. But you need to do this in advance – not on the day.

Home visits have declined dramatically in recent years. They are now normally reserved for patients who are so ill or frail that they cannot visit the surgery, or where the effort to do so would lead to a deterioration in symptoms. The surgery should have clear information on their home-visiting policy – check with their website or reception staff. Another option may be a Skype consultation.

Almost all GP surgeries now have a website where there should be up-to-date information on staff, surgery times, special clinics, and policies on things like home visits. Some surgery websites also allow you to book appointments on-line.

The ME Association

Please support our vital work

We are a national charity working hard to make the UK a better place for people whose lives have been devastated by an often-misunderstood neurological disease.

If you would like to support our efforts and ensure we are able to inform, support, advocate and invest in biomedical research, then please donate today.

Just click the image opposite or visit our JustGiving page for one-off donations or to establish a regular payment. You can even establish your own fundraising event.

Or why not join the ME Association as a member and be part of our growing community? For a monthly (or annual) subscription you will also receive ME Essential – quite simply the best M.E. magazine!


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