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Charity enlists MPs' help for Norwich ME research bid

PUBLISHED: 12:00 22 June 2011

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2009

A charity has enlisted the help of MPs as it attempts to get the support of a Norwich hospital so it can bring pioneering research and help for ME patients to the city.

National charity Invest in ME is working towards funding research into myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) at the University of East Anglia (UEA).

Almost of the pieces are in place to allow the work to start, but the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital is unwilling to allow a top ME consultant to work from the hospital as part of the research, despite NHS Norfolk agreeing to fund the post.

Richard Simpson, a Norwich-based trustee of the charity said: “If we do not get the agreement, which will cost the N&N nothing, then for the proposed research at UEA we may have to go to another county, or another country, to get a suitably diagnosed cohort of patients to participate in proposed research at UEA.

“How deplorable would that be for patients in Norfolk, and East Anglia, that our own flagship hospital stops us from examining patients and provides nothing as an alternative?”

N&N medical director Krishna Sethia said: “Clinically, we do not have the specialists required to support an ME service so it’s not a service that we are proposing to develop.”

NHS Norfolk, alongside NHS Suffolk and NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney, wants to harness some of the expertise the charity will bring to Norfolk to offer a better service for patients, many of whom have been bed-bound for years, as there are no specialist ME consultants in the two counties.

ME is a contentious illness, as little is known about its causes, and the medical profession is divided as to whether it is a psychiatric condition or a physical disease.

Chloe Smith, Norwich North MP, said: “I think it would be great to have this research in Norfolk and Norwich and I would hope it is something that can be looked at. It could be of great benefit to both people in Norwich and nationwide.”

Do you have a story for the Evening News? Contact health reporter Kim Briscoe on 01603 772419 or email kim.briscoe@archant.co.uk.

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