Update from MEA on Radio 4 You and Yours and Case Notes

Ed: Listen again and Podcasts are available for these programmes.   A transcript for Case Notes may be available at a later date.
ME Association News page
ME series on BBC Radio 4
You & Yours (Mon – Fri 12.04- just before 1pm) and Case Notes (Tues 9- 9.30, repeat Wed 4.30 – 5.00pm).

BBC Radio 4 is running a series of items about ME/CS over seven days between Friday November 2 and Monday November 12

Friday, November 2: the BBC’s Peter White interviewed film producer David Puttnam, in a trailer for the main series.

Monday, November 5: The programme examined some of the reasons why ME sparks so much controversy. In the studio, Peter White – professor of psychological medicine at Barts and The London – discussed the subject with Dr William Weir, an infectious diseases specialist now in private practice in Harley Street. There were also contributions from former Action for ME chair Ondine Upton and other ME sufferers, including Zoe Williams (who has been mostly bed-bound for 17 years),

Tuesday, November 6: The ME series took a day’s break from ‘You and Yours’. Instead, the discussion moved across to ‘Case Notes’ at 9pm – where presenter Dr Mark Porter talked with consultant paediatrician Dr Esther Crawley and a couple of her young patients at the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases in Bath. Reporter Anna Lacey also met a young man said to be benefiting from a graded activity programme at the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.

Wednesday, November 7: Back to ‘You and Yours’, where there were separate pre-recorded interviews with Professor Trudie Chalder and MEA medical adviser Dr Charles Shepherd on Cognitive Behaviour Therapy – again with contributions for and against CBT from ME sufferers. There was additional discussion about the value of group-centered management programmes which last some weeks. Trudie Chalder is professor of cognitive behavioural psychotherapy at King’s College, London.

Thursday, November 8: ‘You and Yours’ will assess some of the alternative treatments used to improve the symptoms of ME/CFS. We understand that the consultant neurologist Professor Leslie Findley will appear on the programme today, together with recorded interviews with a number of therapists.

Friday November 9: ‘You and Yours’ will interview 70’s blockbuster novelist Shirley Conran on how she copes with ME. Conran, a former woman’s page editor at the Daily Mail, wrote the ‘Superwoman’ and ‘Lace’ bestellers. She also coined the phrase: “Life’s too short to stuff a mushroom!”

Monday, November 12: ‘You and Yours’ wraps up the series by discussing the controversial subject of medical and scientific research into the causes of ME. We shall flag up details of contributors to this programme as soon as we know them.


[Ed: Dr Esther Crawley is a member of the NICE CFS/ME Guideline Development Group and now chairs the National Collaborative of Clinicians for CFS/ME.]

Link to ‘Case Notes’ website


[Text from Case Notes website]


Chronic fatigue syndrome – otherwise known as M.E. – is thought to affect at least a quarter of a million people across the UK, many of whom are children.

To find out more about the condition, and its management in today’s NHS, Dr Mark Porter travelled to The Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases in Bath to spend a day with Dr Esther Crawley – the only paediatrician in the country who specialises in CFS / ME.

Symptoms in people with CFS / M.E. are typically worse a day of two after physical, emotional or cognitive exertion. One of the major contributors to the fatigue central to CFS is thought to be poor quality sleep. Other symptoms include nausea, headaches and bouts of infections like tonsillitis.

On good days sufferers naturally do more than usual, but then end up dealing with the “payback” later. In the case of school children that’s often towards the end of the school week. Flare ups can be triggered by physical, emotional or cognitive stressors, and other insults like viral infections – typically coughs and colds at this time of year.

Case Notes talks to Dr Crawley’s younger patients about how they cope with CFS. Thirteen year old Amy has been so badly affected by chronic fatigue syndrome that she rarely leaves her house – and when she does it’s in a wheelchair. She longs to join her friends living a normal life, and Dr Crawley helps her to devise a plan so she can cope with a much-wanted Christmas shopping trip.

Teenager Olly had been recovering well from a prolonged episode of chronic fatigue following Dr Crawley’s advice to restrict his sleep, pace his activity and take regular rests. However, he suffered a setback when he started college and has to scale-back his activity.

Activity programme
Our reporter Anna Lacey met up with Alex Woolnough and his father Mike at Great Ormond St Hospital in London, where Alex seems to be benefiting from a graded activity programme designed to help him deal with his chronic fatigue.

Some people claim an activity programme actually makes many people worse, and that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy just reinforces a widely held misconception that CFS / M.E. is primarily psychological in origin. Dr Esther Crawley, however, disagrees.

NICE guidelines
The National Institute for Clinical Health and Excellence has recently published guidelines on the treatment of CFS/M.E., including best treatments and how urgently cases should be referred to a specialist paediatrician.


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