Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), sometimes known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), is a long term health condition.  The South of Tyne Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Service is a specialist NHS service, which offers multidisciplinary assessment and treatment programmes for people with CFS/ME.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), sometimes known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), is a long term health condition.  CFS is characterised by severe fatigue that has lasted for at least four months duration.  The fatigue experienced within CFS is not due to ongoing exertion, is not substantially relieved by rest and results in a marked reduction in activities.  Individuals can experience a variety of fluctuating symptoms that can have a disabling impact on everyday life.  Symptoms can be physical and cognitive.


Physical symptoms may include:

  • Debilitating physical and/or mental fatigue
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen glands
  • Dizziness
  • Sensitivity to noise and/or light
  • Poor temperature control

Cognitive symptoms may include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Poor memory
  • Word finding difficulties
  • Difficulty processing and understanding information

Psychological impact of CFS

As a consequence of living with the symptoms of CFS and their impact on life, it is not uncommon for individuals to also experience emotional difficulties.  People with CFS are particularly vulnerable to stress and low mood.  Feeling a sense of loss of control, lack of motivation and frustration is also common.

What causes CFS?

Currently there is no known cause for CFS.  Research has identified a number of possible factors including dysfunction of the endocrine system, autonomic nervous system, and immune system, but further research needs to be done. 

How is CFS treated?

There is no medical treatment or cure for CFS at this time.  Treatment consists of therapeutic rehabilitation to help manage symptoms and promote well-being. 

Our service

The South of Tyne CFS Service is a specialist NHS service, which offers multidisciplinary assessment and treatment programmes for people with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

Our Service is an outpatient service for adults over the age of 18 years and who have a GP based in Gateshead, South Tyneside or Sunderland.

The emphasis of our service is on self-management and rehabilitation and the aims of our Service are to:

  • Help you to understanding your CFS
  • Develop your self-management skills to manage your symptoms and cope with setbacks
  • Improve your quality of life
  • Support you to increase activity levels in a safe, graded way
  • Help you to continue in or get back to education and/or work, if this is important to you
  • Empower you to manage your health condition independently

Our service provides:

  • 45 minute assessments by a specialist team, during which we aim to gain a shared understanding of your condition and your current difficulties
  • individual or group treatment programmes to help you with your condition management

Treatment will cover topics such as:

  • Understanding and managing symptoms
  • Monitoring activity levels
  • Establishing baselines
  • Identifying appropriate graded increases
  • Moderating patterns of activity and rest
  • Sleep management
  • Relaxation training
  • Movement and stretching
  • Coping with flare ups

Treatment requires some commitment.  If you want to achieve the maximum benefit from treatment it is important that you attend regularly. You will also be set tasks to do between sessions. Carrying out these tasks is an important part of your treatment and good progress is unlikely to happen without them.  Many people find that by utilising this self-management approach they can continue to maintain their gains long after treatment has finished. 

Our team

Our service is provided by a multi-disciplinary team of specialist professionals:

  • Mr Allan Winthrop – Counselling Psychologist and Service Lead
  • Ms Clare Coulthard – Specialist Physiotherapist
  • Ms Rebecca Allison – Specialist Occupational Therapist

Finding us

We are based at Sunderland Royal Hospital on the 4th Floor of Chester Lodge.   Chester Lodge is most easily accessed by the Chester Road entrance and is located opposite Outpatients Entrance 5, across the car park.

Contact us

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Service

Chester Lodge

Sunderland Royal Hospital

Kayll Road


Direct Line: 0191 5410058

Main hospital number:  0191 5656256  extension  40058

Opening hours

The Service is available Wednesday to Friday between 9am and 4pm.

Getting referred

How can I access the service?

Referrals into our service have to be made by your GP.  They will need to make a referral to us that includes your recent blood tests and other essential information we require.

There is no test to tell whether someone has CFS / ME. The diagnosis, therefore, is largely dependent upon the history of the symptoms and exclusion of other causes or conditions that cause similar symptoms.

We will make sure that other illnesses have been excluded by your GP or other health professionals involved in your care before we offer you an assessment.

Areas covered by our service:

We only accept referrals from GP’s based in Gateshead, South Tyneside or Sunderland. 

Useful info

Useful info


Useful books

Overcoming Chronic Fatigue (Book)
Mary Burgess and Trudie Chalder 2009 - Constable and Robinson

Coping with CFS (Book)
Trudie Chalder 1995 - Sheldon Press

Self Help for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: A Guide for Young People (Book)
Trudie Chalder and Kaneez Hussain 2002 - Blue Stallion Publications

Fighting Fatigue: Managing the Symptoms (Book)

Sue Pemberton, Catherine Berry and Janine Spencer 2009 - Hammersmith Press