Bristol RSM Conference: Where is the action?
Before the controversial RSM’s London CFS Conference had taken place in April, it was already known that a regional one day conference on CFS had been scheduled by the Royal Society of Medicine Wessex Region for Bristol, for 18 September.
This conference takes place tomorrow and once again is intended for medical and allied health professionals, only.
I had been alerted to this event by Neil Riley, Chair of the ME Association Board of Trustees, on 13 April. The ME Association has the conference listed on its “Diary Dates” pages.
I flagged up this regional conference in a posting on Read ME UK Events site on the same day; the site received just under 3000 hits during the month of April, alone.
Since then, I have flagged up this Bristol conference several times on both Read ME UK Events and ME agenda site.
I have also put out a copy of the Agenda for tomorrow’s conference on the Co-Cure mailing list together with the Agenda for a conference on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in Children and Young People by the Royal College of Psychiatrists South West Division Training being held in Devon, on 24 October.
Dr Esther Crawley, who was a member of the NICE Guideline Development Group, will be presenting at both the RSM’s Bristol conference and the Royal College of Psychiatrists conference.
In the run up to the RSM’s London CFS Conference, I had launched a Postcard Campaign to help raise awareness of the conference itself and to encourage the ME community to write in to the RSM and express their concerns. This was just one of a number of initiatives around this conference.
I have already mentioned, here, that unfortunately due to personal circumstances I have not been in a position to undertake a Postcard Campaign for the Bristol CFS Conference.
Given the interest in the RSM’s London conference in April, the ME community and the organisations which represent our interests have been notably subdued about the conference taking place tomorrow.
Although this is a regional conference it has implications for all of us in the UK, and internationally. There are many of us who consider that the influence of Professor Peter Denton White is equal to that of Professor Simon Wessely, and Professor White is giving the same presentation in Bristol that he gave in London, in April. There is also a presentation on behalf of NICE.
But as a regional conference, it has particular relevance to residents of the Bristol area for it is their medical professionals – their local GPs, medical trainees and allied health professionals – whose bums will be on the seats at UBHT Education Centre, tomorrow.
To the best of my knowledge no position statement has been issued by the Bristol ME Support Group whose members are amongst those for whom this conference has most relevance. On Saturday, I contacted the Bristol ME Support Group to ask what the Group’s position on this conference is, whether they had issued a position statement and whether the group were taking any action or had written to the media or to the RSM?
I’ve received no response so far on behalf of the group.
In March/April, AfME had issued a statement about Sir Peter Spencer’s participation in the London RSM Conference and this was followed by responses in the form of position statements from the ME Association, The 25% ME Group, The Young ME Sufferers Trust and Invest in ME. Full copies of all these positions statements were posted on both blogs and extracts were included in the “On a Postcard, please” Campaign Flyer. Paul Davis of RiME also provided a brief position statement specifically for inclusion in the Flyer.
Our patient organisations have also been notably muted on the issue of this Bristol conference.
Today I have contacted the ME Association, The Young ME Sufferers Trust, The 25% ME Group and Invest in ME to enquire whether any of these organisations have issued or intend to issue position statements on the Bristol conference or have made any arrangements for material to be handed out to conference attendees.
I will post any responses I receive as they come in.