APPG sets the agenda for next Parliamentary session
The meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group yesterday, 12 July 2007, in the House of Commons was attended by Dr Des Turner MP, who Chairs the APPG, Dr Ian Gibson MP, Secretary of the Group and leader of last year’s Inquiry into the progress of scientific research on M.E., Celia Barlow MP and John Bercow MP.
The meeting included the Group’s Annual General Meeting. Current office bearers – Dr Des Turner, Vice Chairs Andrew Stunnell MP and Tony Wright MP, Dr Ian Gibson and Treasurer David Amess MP – were all re-elected for another year.
After the AGM, the main speaker at the event was Dr Terry Mitchell, clinical champion for M.E./CFS in East Anglia. Dr Mitchell described the holistic approach to M.E. taken by the NHS services with which he had been involved and the financial difficulties encountered since the end of ring-fenced funding.
John Bercow MP suggested that the future of NHS services and biomedical research into M.E. might form the basis of a possible adjournment debate early in the next Parliamentary session. The Group welcomed this suggestion.
There was some discussion on the final version of draft guidance from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), due to be published 20 July and the NICE guideline, expected 22 August.
An advance copy of the DWP guideline showed that although some welcome changes had been made, other recommendations, such as the inclusion of a severity scale to inform decision-makers about the seriousness of the illness, had not.
Action for M.E.’s Trustees will post their views about the guidance on the Action for M.E. website shortly.
The Chair of the APPG will invite the new Secretary of State for Health, the Rt Hon Alan Johnson, to attend the next meeting of the Group, which would probably take place 1, 8 or 15 November, subject to the Minister’s availability.
An invitation would also be extended to the new Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to speak at the Spring meeting, which will probably take place in February.
Sir Peter Spencer, Chief Executive, Action for M.E., said that he hoped more MPs could be encouraged to attend.
Full minutes of the meeting will be available in due course.
13 July 2007