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FMA UK working towards improvements through consultation

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Along with other health charities, FMA UK has been providing input into the planned changes to the NHS and the improvement of the benefit system. The government only allows for short deadlines to respond to these issues and this has meant a heavy workload on already overstretched staff, while also coping with financial restrictions.

The new planned NHS arrangements are undergoing questioning from all levels and we have been trying to ensure that treatment for long term conditions especially pain are seen as a priority not as an area that can be omitted from commissioned services. A pain pathway for chronic widespread pain is in draft form at present and will have been presented by the time this goes to print. This includes the necessity for longer appointment times to consider the range of symptoms and follow up appointments to check on the effectiveness of treatment. The treatment options include a wide range of medications, counselling, self-management and exercise options. Obviously we will keep you informed as to the progress of this.

The government has asked a number of charities to consult and make proposals for changes to the benefit system. The group working on this have recognised that long term, fluctuating conditions which include pain such as fibromyalgia are not well served by the current assessment procedure and points allocation. The proposed changes have been submitted to the panel overseeing these changes and we await the next stage.

FMA UK continues to work with others to ensure that fibromyalgia gets the consideration that is so badly needed. It is still going to be a long process. Even if the proposed changes are accepted in full we know from past experience it takes time and a lot of awareness raising to make all those involved follow new initiatives. Each person can contribute to this by ensuring they are aware what should be available and offered and then making sure the authorities are informed when this does not happen.

The DWP inform us that they cannot respond to general complaints but need details of the people involved and the circumstances. We realise that the whole process has probably been so traumatic that the last thing you feel like doing is going through more officialdom, but without this they cannot be aware of the severity of the problem. If complaints are clustered in a particular area of relate to a specific person they are then in a position to take action.

It would be helpful to copy us in on any action you take at this level so that we can add to our statistics when lobbying MPs and officials.

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