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FMA UK responds to Department of Health statement on current NHS FM services

Ann Keen’s answer to the MP for Wirral West, Stephen Hesford’s question about treatment for fibromyalgia on 13th July 2009 and the audit, Joint Working by Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance (ARMA), of provision under the Musculoskeletal Services Framework(MSF) shows how much is still to be done for the decision makers to understand the problems people with fibromyalgia face.

Undersecretary for Health Ann Keen answered on behalf on the Secretary of State for Health:

People living with fibromyalgia have access to the full range of health and social care from the national health service, including access to pain management services. We have no plans to review this policy.

We have published an 18-week pathway to support those commissioning pain management services. The pathway is specifically aimed at supporting local implementation of good practice, to improve efficiency, reduce delays, and improve quality of service provision in a safe and effective way.

It is the responsibility of primary care trusts to commission specific services for people with fibromyalgia, taking into account the resources they have available, the needs of their wider population, and available guidance on best practice.

Although people with fibromyalgia have the same level of service as other users there are no recognised guidelines for treating fibromyalgia as a whole leading to each symptom being treated as a separate entity in separate departments.

The MSF was supposed to ensure that Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) had a team approach for people with long term conditions such as fibromyalgia but this has not been implemented in the majority of cases as the ARMA audit has shown.

The very first step asks for PCTs to conduct a needs assessment as Ann Keen has indicated in her answer, so that the level of resources needed can be evaluated.  The audit showed that 84% of PCTs had not done this mapping exercise.

As usual the patient suffers whilst the PCTs and government fail to act.  It has taken an organisation of charities to bring the failure of the MSF to the government’s attention and still this has not been considered in the answer to this question.  We feel this standard answer showed no real understanding of the problems faced by people with fibromyalgia despite the evidence that had been presented to Ann Keen at the Westminster Hall Debate recently.

FMA UK had already ensured that Ann Keen received a printed copy of the Joint Working audit. These areas for concern will also be stressed to Anne Keen in our upcoming meeting. We will be following up on this with the help of other interested organisations and through our All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) so that the problems are made clear.

FMA UK will continue to strive to improve the levels of care for sufferers while increasing understanding of this condition among health professionals and the general public.

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