The new ME/ CFS and Long Covid service has been launched.

Manx Care has collaborated with patient groups and charities to develop an enhanced service, to meet the needs of people living with ME/CFS and a growing number of people with Long Covid.

There are about 350 adults with ME/CFS and more than 1,000 adults with Long Covid in the island.

The service now has colleagues in post and is open to referrals from GPs across the island, and the professional service team is acknowledging all referrals with a letter and a list of useful resources.

Local charity ME Support has been working alongside Manx Care in delivering the service.

A spokesperson for ME Support said: ‘We are proud that our persistence over many decades will finally transform the advice given to hundreds of island residents suffering with these conditions.

‘Our UK counterpart, the ME Association, has recognised the “courage, tenacity and hard work of the ME/CFS community on the Isle of Man as inspirational”, and collaborative working alongside Manx Care is “an example to other areas in the UK”.

‘Long Covid was recognised as an immediate threat at the onset of the pandemic by those who had experienced post-viral illnesses first hand. There is also a growing base of clinical evidence indicating that half of people with Long Covid now meet the criteria for an ME/CFS diagnosis.’

Two island residents, Craig Morris and Juan Corlett, have played an active role in highlighting the impact that these conditions have on the lives of families in the island.

Mr Corlett, chair of ME Support Isle of Man, said:‘We are very grateful to local team and UK based experts for their input towards the service.

‘While it is important to remember that the new service will not cure patients, it does represent a huge step in the right direction and one that has been over 30 years in the making since ME Support (IOM) was started by Barbara and Robin Proctor.’

He added: ‘Severe cases can leave individuals unable to work for a long period and in some cases it is doubtful if they will ever be able to return to meaningful work. The estimated average annual cost of social security benefits and lost tax and National Insurance revenue of each severe case of ME or Long Covid is in the region of £20,000.

‘The figure will be even higher when including the economic impact of family members who become carers, the cost health and social care and the wider ripple effects to society.’

Speaking on his own experience with ME, he said: ‘Life was unimaginably difficult for two and a half years.

‘I was incapacitated, unable to talk for large periods, unable to talk with a friend for more than five minutes without getting tired.’

Craig Morris, vice-president of ME Support Isle of Man, said: ‘Having access to prompt diagnosis and specialist advice on managing post-viral illnesses will transform lives. People with these conditions have some of the lowest quality of life scores recorded and anything we can do to help we must; access to specialised medical care is a great place to start.’