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ME treatment plans

23rd August 2007

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has released guidance to GPs that exercise and therapy should be prescribed to sufferers of ME.

Sleeping

ME - also known as chronic fatigue syndrome - is thought to affect 40 out of every 10,000 patients visiting a GP's surgery.

NICE's new recommendations have been published in association with the National Collaborating Centre for Primary Care. The advice is intended to sustain and improve an ME patient's "physical capacity" and to base treatment around the needs of each individual.

GPs are recommended to refer children under 18 to a paediatrician within 6 weeks and that a diagnosis of ME should only be made after 4 months for adults, and 3 months for children.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) should also be offered to patients who have "mild to moderate" ME.

ME patients should be offered the option of home testing, provided with phone or email aid and given control of their proposed treatment options. GPs are advised that a patient should be able to say no to "any part" of their proposed plan without it having future repercussions.

GPs are also advised not to over-simplify their advice to ME sufferers by only telling them to go to the gym and exercise. Doctors should give a patient information about sleep, diet, exercise and "maintaining independence."

Andrew Dillon, Chief Executive of NICE, said the new advice would help to clarify existing doubts about the treatment of ME.

GP Professor Richard Baker, the chairman of NICE's guideline development group, said: "The publication of this guildeline is an important opportunity to change the current situation for the better."



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