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Call for complaints overhaul

Nearly half of GPs do not feel confident making a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome or ME, a new study finds.

The survey of 811 GPs by Health Protection Agency researchers also found that 41 per cent of GPs did not feel confident about treatment. But the research, published in Family Practice last week, found over two- thirds of GPs ­ 72 per cent ­ accepted CFS and ME as a 'recognisable clinical entity', and those GPs had 'significantly more positive attitudes'.

Three other key factors that were associated with GPs' attitudes were knowing someone socially with CFS or ME, being male and seeing more patients with the condition in the last year.

The Government established a working group for CFS and ME in 1998, which published a report with a raft of recommendations for doctors in 2002. NICE is also in the process of developing guidelines for the condition.

But the authors of this latest study concluded: 'Despite the publication of guidance for GPs on CFS/ME, confidence with making a diagnosis and management was found to be low.'

The authors said guidance for GPs should stress the importance of accepting CFS and ME as a recognisable clinical entity, which was linked to a positive attitude and could improve confidence in diagnosis and treatment.

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