A pilot service involving a Dunstable team, helping chronic fatigue syndrome patients with care closer to home, has been hailed as “a godsend”.
Specialists in the consultant-led team, based at the Disability Resource Centre in Poynters Road, provide assessments and diagnosis.
And the patients can then receive their care closer to home instead of travelling to hospitals out of the region.
The new county service is said to be “making a real difference” to people’s lives.
More than 1,000 people in Bedfordshire are affected by chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME).
So far, 68 patients have been referred to the pilot service. Twenty-five of those patients have started individually tailored treatment plans.
And treatments, such as cognitive behaviour therapy and a structured exercise programme, are provided close to the areas in which they live.
Organisers say the treatments are enabling patients to return to everyday activities.
Now John Chisholm, co-ordinator of the Bedfordshire ME Support Group, has said: “ME is a serious debilitating and distressing condition which affects the lives of many local people.
“This new service is now providing them with easy and quicker access to the specialist care and help they need.”
The pilot service, commissioned by the Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, is one of the first in the country to use a “collaborative” approach to treating CFS/ME.
Organisations involved include Horizon Health, Bedford Hospital and the South Essex Partnership Trust (SEPT).
One woman, who has had ME for more than two years, said the condition had “ a massive effect” on her life.
“I was constantly tired and finding it difficult to do simple tasks and get around and out of the house,” she said.
“I didn’t have the energy to think properly and was constantly forgetting things.”
Her GP referred her to the new service and she is starting to carry out everyday activities again.
She said: “The new service in Bedfordshire has been a godsend.
“Everyone in the team has been fantastic. They have really understood my condition and what I’m going through.
“Having a single team of health professionals to address my needs as a whole has helped me achieve my goals and made it so much easier to get the help I need.”
> Patients can be referred to the new service by their GP.