Published: 14/03/2002, Volume II2, No. 5796 Page 22

I read with interest your article about chronic fatigue syndrome/ME, 'The road to consensus' (news focus, 24 January), which indicated some of the hurdles to be faced by those going down the route of self-management. Yes, it must be difficult for clinicians to have to embrace patients' own experiences, for change often is difficult. But how else can chronic conditions be handled?

And how can a national health service be anything other than patient-centred?

The law of supply and demand (not something we hear about much nowadays, but nonetheless valid for that) is as relevant within health as within the economy. A person's health is a measurement of their quality of life, and it is society's business, as well as the individual's, to maximise knowledge and understanding of all health issues.

Many people are perfectly able citizens who are blighted by chronic disease, which they manage as best they can. It is unfortunate that current knowledge is not yet able to control all conditions.

What the government is encouraging, by its expert patients' initiative, is a partnership of trust between the person with the chronic condition and medical experts, GPs etc. Where it has been tried and tested over the last few decades, selfmanagement has had distinct and positive benefits, to the patient and GP, as any amount of research has indicated.

If the government really wants us to be a more healthy society, it should publicise self-management of chronic disease much more effectively.

Heather Woolley Oxspring South Yorkshire