Unfortunately it is often the same group of patients - allergy is one example, patients with lymphoedema another. Patients with stroke was a particularly desperate example until the launch of the stroke strategy and accompanying investment finally made a difference. Another is chronic fatigue syndrome with a report out this week detailing the continuing failure of services to patients with this condition.
The report By Action for ME found that one in four PCTs do not even commission services for this group. Rightly the charity describes the lack of change or impetus as ‘depressing’ despite repeated assurances from successive governments that the needs of patients with chronic fatigue would be met.
It is frustrating that this condition remains unrecognised and therefore untreated. Patients do not receive the help they need for their condition and have to struggle on, often for many years, with this difficult and debilitating condition. And as research shows that the sooner the condition is addressed the better the outcome, this delay in care is short termism at its worst. Relatively simple measures can make a big difference - this is not a condition that is treated with expensive drugs but is managed by a programme of symptom control, for example managing sleep problems and relieving pain. Chronic fatigue or ME affects each patient differently and to varying degrees so individualised care is important.
It seems sometimes as if there is an acceptance that a certain disease group will be neglected. Does this allow commissioners to ignore it? I hope that this is not the case and this report will shame those areas that are not offering proper services to these patients into making it more of a priority.