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Friday, 7 February, 2003, 06:35 GMT
ME sufferers 'deserve better care'
Fatigue
The condition became widely known in the 1980s
More than 20,000 people in Scotland may be suffering from ME, according to a report.

The Scottish Executive study said the health service north of the border should offer much better care for sufferers.

A group of Scottish experts has been looking into ME since a ground-breaking decision that it is a physical - not a psychological - illness.

Myalgic encephalomyelitis - which is also known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) - became widely known as a condition in the 1980s.

There are no easy solutions to this condition

Frank McAveety
Deputy Health Minister

The condition is characterised by extreme disabling fatigue lasting for at least six months.

Last year a group of experts in England advised the health service that ME was physical rather than psychological.

That led to a rethink in how the NHS treats sufferers.

The executive set up a working group to consider the findings.

Local services

Its report estimated that as many as 20,000 adults and 600 children could have ME in Scotland.

The working group recommended that NHS boards should develop local plans on how services for sufferers might be developed over the next two to three years.

It said more complex cases should be referred to specialists and care plans should be worked out with the patient and their carer.

It is clear that this is a disorder which can be recognised, where a diagnosis can be given, and a range of interventions agreed upon

Dr Mac Armstrong
Chief Medical Officer
Professionals should also get training to help them develop the necessary skills to treat the disorder, said the report.

However, hospitals will be expected to provide better care out of their existing budgets.

Deputy Health Minister Frank McAveety acknowledged that the "complex" condition was not yet fully understood by scientists and medical professionals.

He said: "There are no easy solutions to this condition, but this report, and that of the English expert group, should go a long way to increasing awareness of the problems that it can cause."

Chief Medical Officer Mac Armstrong said NHS boards could use the report as "a base on which they can develop local service".

"It is clear that this is a disorder which can be recognised, where a diagnosis can be given, and a range of interventions agreed upon, with a clear expectation of an improved outcome for most patients, and support for all," he said.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Health correspondent Eleanor Bradford
"The report calls for more government-funded research"
See also:

16 Jan 03 | Health
07 May 01 | Health
20 May 98 | Medical notes
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