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Changes to ME advice reinforces need for ME service, says Bradshaw

Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has called for the Department of Health to urgently develop a clinician-led service for ME, after guidance from the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) for managing the condition was confirmed to have changed.

The guidance states doctors should no longer prescribe exercise regimes to those with the condition, instead working alongside them to establish their energy limits.

“For too long, the 7,000 people in Northern Ireland who suffer with ME have waited for a clinician-led service specific to the condition,” said South Belfast MLA Ms Bradshaw.

“There is an opportunity now through the abolition of the Health and Social Care Board for the Department to step up its efforts directly with the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust to develop such a service.

“NICE guidance has now been issued and, unsurprisingly for campaigners, it has changed to recommend against exercise therapy. The advice is now clearly practitioners should not advise exercise except specifically as part of a programme overseen by a specialist.

“People waited far too long for ME even to be recognised in the first place, and now they have waited a decade for an appropriate service. Too many things concerning ME are subject to endless delay, and the publication of this advice is just the latest. It is time now to move swiftly to adopt this advice and develop a robust and accessible care pathway for the thousands of people in Northern Ireland who need it.”