House of Commons Recess dates for 2009, APPG on ME inquiry

House of Commons Recess dates for 2009 (All recess dates are provisional)

House returns: Monday, 12 January 2009 – Half Term: House rises: 12 February 2009

House returns: 23 February 2009 – Easter: House rises: 2 April 2009

House returns: 20 April 2009 – Whitsun: House rises: 21 May 2009

House returns: 1 June 2009- Summer: House rises: 21 July 2009

Summer recess

House returns: 12 October 2009

In addition to the recess dates listed above, the House will not sit on the following Bank Holiday: 4 May

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The meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on ME, which had been anticipated to take place in December pending availability of a potential speaker, was postponed.  The next meeting is provisionally scheduled for February.  Parliamentary half term runs from 12th – 23rd February.  It would be unfortunate if any meeting of the APPG held in February were to clash with the Judicial Review of the NICE Guideline on “CFS/ME”, scheduled for a High Court hearing on Wednesday 11th and Thursday 12th February.  (See previous two postings here and here.)

Meetings of the APPG on ME are open to members of the ME community, representatives of national ME patient and research organisations, representatives of local and regional ME/CFS support groups and other interested parties.  Paul Davis of RiME urges everyone well enough to attend the next meeting to do so.  I will post the Agenda, here, as soon as an Agenda has been circulated by the secretariat.   If you are planning to attend, please check back for any last minute changes to House of Commons’ committee room and time.

No further information on MP Dr Des Turner’s proposed inquiry into NHS service provision for people with ME has emerged since the last meeting of the APPG, in October.  Minutes of the October meeting can be read here on ME agenda.

The final Terms of Reference for this proposed APPG on ME inquiry (which will be an unofficial inquiry) have yet to be published and it remains unknown what amendments have been made to the draft document as presented at the October meeting or whether the APPG has taken any heed of the many concerns submitted to Dr Turner and the APPG secretariat (Action for ME  and the ME Association) in November concerning the inquiry’s Terms of Reference, in particular, and the scope, administration, aims and objectives of this proposed inquiry, in general.

Dr Turner (APPG Chair), who intiated this project, has still to announce a chair and a panel to carry out the inquiry but it is understood that Dr Richard Taylor MP, Dr Ian Gibson MP and the Countess of Mar have committed to membership of an inquiry panel.

On the matter of timescales, it had been stated at the October APPG that:

“The Chair would send out an invitation to submit written evidence before Christmas with a view to hearing oral evidence in February/March and publication before the summer recess (subject to funding).” Minutes APPG on ME meeting, October 2009

But no deadlines for submissions of Written Evidence have been announced by the APPG and neither have any dates for hearings for Oral Evidence.

Dr Charles Shepherd (MEA), has said that the most important source of evidence will be that sent in by people with ME/CFS who have used hospital based services and that he hopes there will be a large response when the Inquiry calls for patient evidence which he says will probably, in part, take the form of a questionnaire.

But calls for patient evidence and a patient questionnaire have yet to be issued by the APPG.

On the matter of funding for this unofficial inquiry, it had been stated by Dr Turner at the October APPG that:

“…resourcing the Inquiry was an issue as a great deal of work would be involved. A similar Inquiry, resourced by a special interest group, had recently cost £40k. Suggestions to raise money included issuing an appeal for funds or approaching a pharmaceutical company for sponsorship.” Minutes APPG on ME meeting, October 2009

No announcement about a source/sources of sponsorship has been made.

Perhaps it is the case that the APPG on ME committee has decided to review its plans for this proposed inquiry into NHS service provision until after the Judicial Review of the NICE Guideline for “CFS/ME” (G53) has taken place.

Notwithstanding the imminence of the NICE Judicial Review, given that the next meeting of the APPG on ME is not scheduled until February, given the unresolved issues around the inquiry’s draft Terms of Reference, the ambitious scope of this project, the inquiry’s lack of funding, uncertainties over who is going to be responsible for the collection and processing of data and the administration of other processes through which this proposed inquiry will be undertaken, it seems unrealistic of the APPG and the secretariat to the APPG (AfME and the MEA), who have so far been assisting with the administration of the inquiry, to consider that this project could be completed before the summer recess.

I will post any official updates on the progress of this proposed inquiry as these are issued or as information becomes available.  

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