A service that will specifically help island residents who live with chronic illnesses has been soft launched with a view to be fully open to referrals in the next month.

Funding for the service, which will support those living with myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME)/ chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and ‘Long Covid’, was approved by Tynwald in February of this year with work beginning on the service in April according to Health and Social Care Minister Rob Callister MHK.

Mr Callister updated the chamber on the service’s progress after a question from Daphne Caine MHK and also praised the efforts of ME Support Isle of Man, who have advised the Manx Care team working on the service. Juan Corlett, chairman of the group, said: ‘Manx Care’s new team are passionate and enthusiastic, and the service is based on the latest guidance.

‘The nature of these conditions is that the service will not provide a cure, but the therapy programme will help individuals to manage their own condition and the new pathway will make diagnoses more robust.

‘The team will be supporting those recently diagnosed and long-standing cases, so there could be a high number of referrals initially. The new service is a big step in the right direction and we look forward to helping it grow.’

On the recent progress of the service, Mr Callister said: ‘After an expansion of the multidisciplinary team to three clinicians, two therapists, one clinical psychologist and a GP with a special interest in ME/CFS and Long Covid, over the summer, the service soft-launched in mid-September, meaning that patients who have been on the waiting list for the longest have started to be triaged in preparation for commencement of assessment and treatment.’

ME/CFS is a complex illness which is thought to affect 0.2-0.4% of the population with a variety of symptoms including ‘fatigue, pain, poor memory, “brain fog”, orthostatic intolerance, sleep disturbance, hypersensitivity to sound and light, IBS, and swollen glands’.

The service will fully launch once the full team is installed, which is expected to be within the next four weeks.