The specialist Lyme disease clinic offered by the Royal Hampshire Count Hospital in Winchester has been withdrawn by the hospital Trust.
The withdrawal takes effect from 1 May 2014, and Royal Hampshire Count Hospital in Winchester will not accept any new referrals.
PHE supports the concept of specialist clinics for the investigation and treatment of complicated infectious diseases and persistent symptoms attributed to them, and several of these clinics are provided by the NHS already at major centres.
Dr Tim Brooks, Head of PHE’s Rare and Imported Pathogens Laboratory (RIPL) which tests samples for Lyme disease, said:
Although PHE does not directly provide clinics, and is not a commissioner of healthcare services, we do offer specialised testing and laboratory support for the investigation of Lyme Disease, and will be working with NHS partners to develop these services further, potentially including the provision of a further clinic within an NHS trust to provide additional capacity.
Over the last 3 years (2011 to 2013), between 950 and 1050 people have been diagnosed with Lyme disease annually in England and Wales.
Often the only symptom of Lyme disease is a rash, which gradually spreads from the site of the tick bite. The rash can cover a large area and last for weeks if left untreated. Some patients may also experience ‘flu-like’ symptoms.
If left untreated more serious symptoms may develop in the following weeks or months. In the majority of cases, Lyme disease can be treated successfully with antibiotics and early treatment usually clears the rash within several days and helps to prevent the development of complications.
Lyme Disease Action offers a help service for patients and has a website addressing many frequently asked questions on Lyme disease. Information is also available through NHS Choices and Public Health England websites.