$1,100,000 is required over 5 years for an Optimal Care Pathway for ME/CFS

Currently, people with ME/CFS and post-viral diseases do not routinely receive appropriate, coordinated care shared care. Further, they face barriers accessing evidence-based information and integrated non-clinical support, all of which can inhibit symptom management and recovery. It is critical that ME/CFS and Long COVID patients are empowered to understand their unique needs and become partners in their own care.

Clinical guidelines provide support to GPs. However, GPs cannot meet all care support needs for Australian patients with these conditions. Optimal Care Pathways (OCP) support integrated shared care across the entire health system. Such innovative approaches to the coordination of non-clinical service delivery have achieved improved outcomes for patients in other settings.

For example, shared care, in which care is shared between specialist and primary care or other health professionals, has been implemented successfully for a range of health conditions, including diabetes, cancer, paediatric oncology and obstetric care.[1] Shared care enables multi-disciplinary collaboration between specialist/ hospital care and primary care clinicians.

An OCP for ME/CFS and Long COVID would ensure each patient receives equitable and safe care from a breadth of healthcare professionals. Allied health professionals like physiotherapists, exercise physiologists, occupational therapists and psychologists can provide critical support with symptom management. Similarly, specialists including cardiologists, gastroenterologists and rheumatologists can help with symptoms of ME/CFS and Long COVID and common comorbid conditions, like postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome and fibromyalgia.

The OCP should be developed though a multi-disciplinary clinician consensus process that includes people with ME/CFS, carers and allied health professionals to establish the elements of quality care that should be offered. A thorough monitoring and evaluation process would similarly ensure the OCP is delivering efficient, appropriate and equitable care.

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[1] W. Brodribb. ‘Maternity care in general practice’ The Medical Journal of Australia 201:11 (2014).