Category: 25% ME Group

Second DSM-5 public comment period closes 15 June: Final Call for Action

Second DSM-5 public comment period closes 15 June: Final Call for Action by UK patient orgs


This communication has been sent to the following organizations:

Action for M.E.; The ME Association; AYME; The Young ME Sufferers Trust; The 25% ME Group; RiME; Invest in ME; BRAME; ME Research UK; Mrs Sue Waddle

[Update: On June 1, Action for M.E. published a news item on DSM-5 confirming that it does intend to submit a response.]

Final Call for Action by UK patient organizations


Second DSM-5 public comment period closes 15 June

29 May 2011

The above organizations were alerted to this second public review period on 5 May, the day after revised criteria were posted on the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-5 Development website.

To date, not one patient organization in the UK has confirmed to me that they intend to submit feedback, this year. Please take some time to review these proposals and prepare a submission or consider submitting a joint response with another UK patient organization.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) DSM-5 Task Force is again accepting public comment on the latest proposals for the revision of DSM diagnostic criteria for psychiatric disorders.

The deadline for this second stakeholder feedback period is June 15 – less than three weeks away!

Is this a US specific issue?

No. UK and international input is required from patient organizations.

The DSM-5 “Somatic Symptom Disorders” Work Group has responsibility for the revision of the existing DSM-IV “Somatoform Disorders” categories. Two UK Professors of psychological medicine and research, Professor Michael Sharpe and Professor Francis Creed, are members of the Somatic Symptom Disorders Work Group.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is the primary diagnostic system in the US for defining mental disorders and is used to varying extent in other countries. The next edition of the manual is scheduled for publication in 2013 and will inform health care providers and policy makers for many years to come. DSM-5 will shape international research, influence literature in the fields of psychiatry and psychosomatics and inform perceptions of patients’ medical needs throughout the world.

All UK patient organizations need to submit responses in this second review, even if they submitted last year. The latest key documents that expand on the proposals are attached for ease of reference. (Note: These documents have been revised several times since last year’s public review. Yellow highlighting has been applied by the Work Group to indicate edits and revisions between these latest versions and the texts as they had stood, earlier this year.)

What is being proposed?

The DSM-5 “Somatic Symptom Disorders” Work Group is recommending renaming the “Somatoform Disorders” section to “Somatic Symptom Disorders” and combining the existing categories – “Somatoform Disorders”, “Psychological Factors Affecting Medical Condition (PFAMC)” and possibly “Factitious Disorders”, into one group.

(“Somatic” means “bodily” or “of the body”.)

The Work Group also proposes combining “Somatization Disorder”, “Hypochondriasis”, “Undifferentiated Somatoform Disorder” and “Pain Disorder” under a new category entitled “Complex Somatic Symptom Disorder” (CSSD). There is also a “Simple or Abridged Somatic Symptom Disorder” (SSSD) and a proposal to rename “Conversion Disorder” to “Functional Neurological Disorder”.

If the various proposals of the Somatic Symptom Disorders Work Group were approved, there are considerable concerns that patients with a diagnosis of CFS, ME or PVFS, or awaiting diagnosis, would be vulnerable to the application of an additional “bolt-on” mental health diagnosis of a Somatic Symptom Disorder like “CSSD”, “SSSD” or “PFAMD”, or of misdiagnosis with a Somatic Symptom Disorder.

Because the APA and the WHO have a joint commitment to strive for harmonization between category names, glossary descriptions and criteria for DSM-5 and the corresponding categories in Chapter 5 of the forthcoming ICD-11, there could be implications for the revision of the “Somatoform Disorders” section of ICD-10 and therefore implications for UK patients – both adults and children.

Where can I find the full criteria for “CSSD”, “PFAMC” and other proposed categories?

Proposed criteria are set out on the DSM-5 Development site here:

The CSSD criteria are here:

There are two key PDF documents, “Disorders Descriptions” and “Rationale”, which expand on the Work Group’s proposals (attached for your convenience)

    Disorders Description   Key Document One: “Somatic Symptom Disorders”

    Rationale Document     Key Document Two: “Justification of Criteria — Somatic Symptoms”


Which patient groups might be hurt by these proposals?

The Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Advisory Committee (CFSAC) provides advice and recommendations to the US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). On Day One of the May 10-11 CFSAC meeting, CFSAC Committee discussed the implications of these proposals for CFS, ME and Fibromyalgia patients as part of the agenda item around concerns for the proposed coding of CFS for the forthcoming ICD-10-CM.

If the Work Group’s proposals gain DSM Task Force approval, all medical diseases, whether “established general medical conditions or disorders”, like diabetes or heart disease, or conditions presenting with “somatic symptoms of unclear etiology” will have the potential for an additional diagnosis of a “somatic symptom disorder” – if the clinician considers that the patient’s response to their bodily symptoms and concerns about their health or the perception of their level of disability is “disproportionate”, or their coping styles, “maladaptive.”

But as discussed by CFSAC Committee members, patients with CFS, ME, Fibromyalgia and IBS (the so-called “Functional somatic syndromes”) may be especially vulnerable to the highly subjective criteria and difficult to measure concepts such as “disproportionate distress and disability”, “catastrophising”, “health-related anxiety” and “[appraising] bodily symptoms as unduly threatening, harmful, or troublesome.”

In a 2009 Editorial on the progress of the Work Group, the Work Group Chair wrote that by doing away with the “controversial concept of medically unexplained”, their proposed classification might diminish “the dichotomy, inherent in the ‘Somatoform’ section of DSM-IV, between disorders based on medically unexplained symptoms and patients with organic disease.” The conceptual framework the Work Group proposes:

“…will allow a diagnosis of somatic symptom disorder in addition to a general medical condition, whether the latter is a well-recognized organic disease or a functional somatic syndrome such as irritable bowel syndrome or chronic fatigue syndrome.”

In its latest proposals, the Work Group writes:

“…Having somatic symptoms of unclear etiology is not in itself sufficient to make this diagnosis. Some patients, for instance with irritable bowel syndrome or fibromyalgia would not necessarily qualify for a somatic symptom disorder diagnosis. Conversely, having somatic symptoms of an established disorder (e.g. diabetes) does not exclude these diagnoses if the criteria are otherwise met.”

“…The symptoms may or may not be associated with a known medical condition. Symptoms may be specific (such as localized pain) or relatively non-specific (e.g. fatigue). The symptoms sometimes represent normal bodily sensations (e.g., orthostatic dizziness), or discomfort that does not generally signify serious disease…”

“…Patients with this diagnosis tend to have very high levels of health-related anxiety. They appraise their bodily symptoms as unduly threatening, harmful, or troublesome and often fear the worst about their health. Even when there is evidence to the contrary, they still fear the medical seriousness of their symptoms. Health concerns may assume a central role in the individual’s life, becoming a feature of his/her identity and dominating interpersonal relationships.”

These proposals could result in misdiagnosis of a mental health disorder or the misapplication of an additional diagnosis of a mental health disorder in patients with CFS and ME. There may be considerable implications for these highly subjective criteria for the diagnoses assigned to patients, the provision of social care, the payment of employment, medical and disability insurance, the types of treatment and testing insurers and health care providers are prepared to fund, and the length of time for which insurers are prepared to pay out.

Dual-diagnosis of a “general medical condition” or a so-called “functional somatic syndrome” plus a “bolt-on” diagnosis of a “Somatic symptom disorder” may bring thousands more patients, potentially, under a mental health banner where they may be subject to inappropriate treatments, psychiatric services, antidepressants and behavioural therapies such as CBT, for the “modification of dysfunctional and maladaptive beliefs about symptoms and disease, and behavioral techniques to alter illness and sick role behaviors and promote more effective coping [with their somatic symptoms].”

Who should submit comment on these proposals?

All stakeholders are permitted to submit comment and the views of patients, carers, families and advocates are important.

But evidence-based submissions from the perspective of informed medical professionals – clinicians, psychiatrists, researchers, allied health professionals, lawyers and other professional end users are likely to have more influence. Patient organizations also need to submit comment.

Where can I read last year’s submissions?

Copies of international patient organization submissions for the first DSM-5 public and stakeholder review are collated on this page of my site, together with selected patient and advocate submissions:

DSM-5 Submissions to the 2010 review:

How to comment:

Register to submit feedback via the DSM-5 Development website:

This is the last alert I shall be sending out. I hope all UK patient organisations will take this opportunity to submit their concerns.

Remember, the deadline is June 15.

Thank you.

Suzy Chapman

Dr Charles Shepherd, Prof Leslie Findley and Phil Parker (Lightning Process) on Radio Berkshire

Dr Charles Shepherd, Prof Leslie Findley and Phil Parker (Lightning Process) on Radio Berkshire


Note: This is an edited version of content first posted on 11 November.

On 2 November, the ME Association reported that BBC Radio Berkshire had broadcast an interview with the ME Association’s medical adviser, Dr Charles Shepherd, during an item on the UK life ban on blood donation by everyone with the illness ME and CFS which was implemented on 1 November.

During the interview, also broadcast on 1 November, Esther Rantzen, standing in for Anne Diamond, the usual presenter of this mid-morning programme, had sidelined discussion of the implementation of the blood ban to promote the Lightning Process.

The ME Association reported that “Claims were made about the value of Lightning Process approach for people with ME/CFS and recovery rates for the illness which we challenged as soon as we heard they had been made. These will be the subject of a further item on BBC Radio Berkshire on Thursday 11 November…” See next posting

The 1 November broadcast can be heard here, on YouTube, in three parts:

There has been considerable concern about the way in which Ms Rantzen conducted herself during the ME strand on this programme which had included contributions from ME patients via phone link. Complaints have been pouring in to the programme producers by email and phone.

One poster on Facebook wrote:

Esther Rantzen to radio caller Will: “..Now I am going to tell you something Will….. I can tell you about my daughter, she found something called the Lightning Process and you can find it on the internet….. it’s a method of training your brain to withstand the symptoms….. it’s a form of Neuro-linguistic Programming, you know how people use their mindset to withstand symptoms….”

Esther to Will: “…Let me tell you something else, it is an illness that most people recover from spontaneously, most people, 60% of people, get back to normality”

(Surely recovery rates are between 5 and 12%?)

Caller Will to Esther referring to the lifetime ban on giving blood by everyone diagnosed with ME (whether or not any improvement in their health has occurred). Will explains that some people have been wrongly diagnosed with ME and turned out to have completely different diseases:

Will: “…The difficulty is with the diagnostic process with ME, it’s an educated guess by specialists so there may be many people diagnosed with ME that may not even have ME in the first place….. now, in line with the blood ban that’s been announced to day what happens if you’ve been misdiagnosed, or undiagnosed…”

Esther: “Well, I mean, obviously the ban cannot apply…”

WRONG. The lifetime blood ban from the 1st November applies to everyone who has been given a diagnosis of ME or CFS in the UK. Esther announced that the ban “cannot apply” to individual cases. That is very irresponsible of her and appears to overrule the Blood Services announcement on the ban.

Esther to Will: “Will listen, don’t give up hope..… I tell you what, have a look at what the Lightning Process, it’s on the internet…”

Esther has directed the caller to look up Lightning on the internet for the second time in a few minutes. What Will would find on the internet is the commercial Lightning site advertising Lightning.

Will: “…I don’t think I have the funds….”

Esther: “I think there may be an equivalent on the NHS”

WRONG. There is no equivalent of Lightning on the NHS.


Today, just after 12 noon, in a pre-recorded interview, Anne Diamond discussed ME and CFS in general, its WHO neurological classification, the need for biomedical research and sub-grouping, the MRC’s CFS/ME Expert Group, the Lightning Process, and illness prognosis with Dr Charles Shepherd and Professor Leslie Findley. There was a brief contribution from Phil Parker towards the end of the interviews.

In 2007, Prof Leslie Findley had undertaken an informal, non RCT pilot study of the Lightning Process. No results from this pilot have been published but Prof Findley spoke to the Canadian media in an article here, in 2008, in which he quotes unremarkable results and reports that in small number of cases there can be bad relapses.

CBS News In Depth: Health
Lightning Process
Controversial training program comes to Canada
April 18, 2008  |  By Zoe Cormier


Prof Findley had also given a presentation around the pilot study at the 2007 Ramsay Society Annual Meeting with a colleague,  Gerrie de Vries. There is no English summary or note of this Ramsay Society meeting but photographs and notes were published, in German, by Regina Clos, which can be read in auto translate here:

Gerrie de Vries & Leslie J. Findley: “The Effects of the Lightning Process in the Management of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – a start.” :

An personal account here on Bad Science Forum mentions Prof Findley’s involvement in “Neuro Behavioural Training” – an approach described as encompassing “Occupational Therapy, Clincal Hypnotherapy, Neuro Linguistic Programming, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Life Coaching”. Sessions take place over three days.

When asked about the Lightning Process, in today’s interview, Prof Findley said “…it’s been badly, badly applied, poorly researched and we would use it or recommend it probably in perhaps one in thirty or one in forty of patients, after they have been properly assessed over a long period of time and more standard management programmes have been applied” but he did not mention that he had, himself, undertaken an informal pilot in 2007.


Until 18 November, you can “Listen again” to the Radio Berkshire broadcast on BBC iPlayer at:

Radio Berkshire 11 November Anne Diamond

Starts at 2 hours 3 mins in from beginning of programme.

Broadcast on BBC Berkshire, 10:00am Thu, 11 Nov 2010
Available until 1:02pm Thu, 18 Nov 2010

Or listen on YouTube, here:

On 10 November I sent this letter of complaint to the producers of the Anne Diamond programme. (At 18 November, I have yet to receive a response or acknowledgement.)

Re: Broadcast in which Esther Rantzen discussed ME/CFS and the new UK ban on blood donation by everyone with the illness with ME Association medical adviser, Dr Charles Shepherd, BBC Radio Berkshire: Monday 1 November

I am writing to complain about Ms Rantzen’s handling of this broadcast.

I understand that Ms Rantzen was standing in for the usual presenter, Ms Anne Diamond.

I have the following concerns:

1] Ms Rantzen was brought in to present a programme during which the ME/CFS blood ban would be discussed.

Ms Rantzen has a number of COIs in relation to ME/CFS.

Ms Rantzen is President of AYME (The Young People’s ME Trust).

She is known to promote the Phil Parker Lightning Process in the media.

The patient organisation of which she is President has for its medical adviser, Dr Esther Crawley.

Dr Esther Crawley is about to commence recruiting participants to a controversial pilot study where the Lightning Process will be applied to children aged 12 to 18 years old, for which Dr Crawley is Chief Investigator.

The patient organisation of which Ms Rantzen is President has been involved in the development and planning of this Lightning Process pilot study.

The patient organisation of which Ms Rantzen is President has a seat on the “Expert Advisory Group” for this Lightning Process pilot study.

2] I have scrutinised a partial transcript and note that during the broadcast, Ms Rantzen, on several occasions, sought to promote the Lightning Process to the public and to a contributor to the programme calling on a phone-link and that she also directed him to look at the internet for more information on the Lightning Process.

Ms Rantzen also made claims for recovery rates of patients with ME/CFS for which she offered no supporting evidence.

3] In my opinion, Ms Rantzen gave misleading information in relation to the blood ban and its application to individuals.

In response to the caller’s concerns about the cost of the Lightning Process, Ms Rantzen is reported as having said, “I think there may be an equivalent on the NHS”.

This is incorrect, there is no equivalent available on the NHS.

In the light of Ms Rantzen’s COIs and given her blatant promotion of the Lightning Process during a BBC broadcast I do not consider that Ms Rantzen could be considered to have been a neutral presenter.

I do not consider that she should have used the issue of the ME/CFS blood ban to promote a commercial “training” programme marketed by Phil Parker and his Lightning Process trainers / coaches / practitioners during a BBC broadcast.

I consider that the BBC was negligent in its failure to take Ms Rantzen’s COIs into consideration when selecting a stand-in for Ms Diamond and that Ms Rantzen had taken advantage of her position, as presenter, to introduce and promote the Lightning Process to the public during an item, the focus of which, was the recent UK blood ban for ME/CFS patients.

I would welcome your responses.

I also request a copy of the BBC’s policy on the declaration of COIs in its presenters and a copy of the BBC’s policy on the promotion of commercial goods and services by BBC presenters during broadcasts.

Sincerely, etc

Related material:

1] SMILE – Specialist Medical Intervention and Lightning Evaluation documents (Lightning Process pilot study – children [now aged 12 to 18] with CFS and ME):

2] ASA adjudication against “Withinspiration”, June 2010

3] Background to this issue:

4] All posts on Lightning Process pilot study in children issue on ME agenda:

ME and CFS in Parliament: Term dates, APPG on ME and Lightning Process pilot study, Written Question, new EDM

ME and CFS in Parliament: Term dates, APPG on ME and Lightning Process pilot study in children, Written Question, new EDM


A compilation of Parliamentary related items

House of Commons Recess dates 2010-11 (Note: All recess dates are provisional)

House of Commons

State Opening: 25 May 2010

Conference Recess: House Rises: 16 September 2010 House Returns: 11 October 2010

Christmas Recess: House Rises: 21 December 2010 House Returns: 10 January 2011

Half term to be confirmed

Easter to be confirmed


The reconvened APPG on ME had been expected to hold a planning meeting in September. I cannot confirm whether and when a planning meeting took place.

Today, I have written to David Amess MP (Acting Chair, APPG on ME), Annette Brooke MP (Vice-Chair, APPG on ME), APPG on ME ME Association Secretariat and Jane Colby (The Young ME Sufferers Trust).

I have requested that the controversial issue of the Bath/Bristol Lightning Process pilot study in children (which for which ethics approval was obtained in September and for which the study protocol and related documents were published on 16 September) is going to be tabled for discussion at the first meeting of the APPG on ME, on whatever date this takes place. If this is not being tabled for discusion I have requested that it be added to the Agenda.

The following have been advised: Invest in ME; 25% ME Group; RiME, Sue Waddle (rep for ME Research UK) and BRAME.

I took the opportunity of thanking Annette Brooke, again, for raising this issue with Rt Hon Andrew Lansley, MP, Secretary of State for Health and also for tabling the Parliamentary Question for which a response was received from Paul Burstow, MP, Minister of State (Care Services), on 11 October.

I also thanked the ME Association and The Young ME Sufferers Trust for their very strong opposition statements, their joint press release and for their representations to the Department of Health and to the Chair of South West 2 Research Ethics Committee.

I will confirm whether this issue is being tabled for discussion at the next meeting of the APPG on ME, which is expected to be held in November but for which a date has yet to be confirmed.



An EDM (Early Day Motion) has been tabled by Ian Swales MP (LibDem Redcar). It is understood that this results out of lobbying by Jan Laverick and a family member.

EDM 778


Swales, Ian

That this House notes that despite the fact that the Department of Health now accepts myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) as a genuine medical condition, diagnosis can still pose a problem because ME symptoms are similar to those present in a number of other medical conditions; recognises that one of the main obstacles to the adequate treatment of ME is the lack of knowledge and consensus about the disease; believes that funding and research must be focused on the bio-medical factors involved and not just simply managing the psychological symptoms; requests that the Government establishes an independent scientific committee to oversee ME research; and calls on the Government and the Medical Research Council to work with ME sufferers and bio-medical researchers in order to achieve a proper understanding of the condition’s challenges and unjust perceptions of the condition.

At 14 October, 18 MPs had signed up to the EDM. Follow its progres, here, where signatures of supporting MPs are listed:


Ian Swales MP maintains a Facebook page here: Ian Swales (Liberal Democrat) for Redcar on Facebook

What are Early Day Motions?

Early day motions (EDMs) are formal motions submitted for debate in the House of Commons. However, very few EDMs are actually debated. Instead, they are used for reasons such as publicising the views of individual MPs, drawing attention to specific events or campaigns, and demonstrating the extent of parliamentary support for a particular cause or point of view.

More information on the nature and purpose of EDMs, here, on the Parliament website


Contacting MPs

For contact details for MPs go to this page on the Parliament website:

or here on They Work for You:

Find out about your new MP/ MSPs/ MLAs

Read debates they’ve taken part in, see how they voted, sign up for an email alert, and more.

They Work for You links to:

The most recent Commons debates

The most recent Westminster Hall debates

The most recent Written Answers

The most recent Lords debates

The most recent Written Ministerial Statements


Written answers and statements, 13 October 2010 [2]

Written answers and statements
Hansard source (Citation: HC Deb, 13 October 2010, c347W)

Work Capability Assessment: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Margaret Curran (Labour, Glasgow West): To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether the agency contracted to provide medical examinations as part of the Work Capability Assessment has been issued with specific guidance on the assessment of persons presenting a diagnosis of myalgic encephalomyelitis or chronic fatigue syndrome. [14304]

Chris Grayling (Minister of State for Employment): All health care professionals working for Atos Healthcare are required to read an evidence based protocol on chronic fatigue syndrome as part of their induction training. This was last updated in January 2010. In addition, all health care professionals are required to engage in a programme of continuing medical education which includes two modules on chronic fatigue syndrome. These were last updated in April 2009 and March 2010 respectively.

Related information

[1] “Unethical” Lightning Process pilot study in children receives ethics approval 

[2] Information on tabling Parliamentary Questions:

House of Lords short debate: Neurological health conditions 11 October 2010

House of Lords short debate: Neurological health conditions 11 October 2010


ME Association report followed by full Hansard transcript

Hansard source (Citation: HL Deb, 11 October 2010, c393)

ME Association News page

The Countess of Mar battles again for ME in Lords’ debate – 11 October 2010

In a short debate on neurological health conditions in the House of Lords yesterday, crossbench peer The Countess of Mar had this to say:

My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Gardner of Parkes, has chosen an appropriate moment to table this Question and I am grateful to her. I declare an interest, as I have a diagnosis – finally – of organophosphate poisoning leading to autonomic dysfunction. I am a patron of several charities and groups that represent the interests of patients with myalgic encephalomyelitis, also known as ME or CFS, but which I will call by its common abbreviation, ME. I am also chairman of Forward-ME.

Arising from my own illness and the battle that I and others had to get the toxicity of the once ubiquitous organophosphates recognised – a battle that I am sure the Minister well recalls – I became interested in other medical conditions, such as fibromyalgia and Gulf War illnesses, for which there was no diagnosis or treatment, let alone recognition. Foremost among these is ME. ME has been categorised as a neurological condition at least since 1968. It is recognised as such by the World Health Organisation and the United Kingdom Government. However, for all these years, sufferers from this awful debilitating illness have been ignored, derided and mistreated. The soubriquet “yuppie flu”, acquired in the 1970s, has stuck in the minds of the public and, unfortunately, in the minds of far too many members of the medical and allied health professions. Too often I hear statements such as: “Sometimes I felt that the therapist did not appreciate how physical and biological the symptoms are. She said she understood but then suggested that a lot could be cured just by thinking differently. I don’t think she really appreciated how severe the symptoms are, or that when I said I couldn’t do something I really meant that I couldn’t do it. She also talked a lot about needing to get fitter, which I thought completely missed the point”.

Many thousands of peer-reviewed scientific papers from researchers around the world demonstrate that ME is a physical disease which has endocrine, immune and cardiovascular effects, as well as neurological symptoms, albeit with some of the psychological aspects common to many chronic diseases. It is distinct from chronic fatigue which is a symptom of many diseases – depression or cancer, for example. Despite this, there is a school of thought, dominant through the last three decades, that this is a psychosocial behavioural problem, easily dealt with by cognitive behavioural therapy and graded exercise. On many occasions I have spoken about the failure of successive Administrations to recognise ME for what it is: a chronic illness with fluctuating symptoms of unknown or uncertain origin and of variable severity. There are theories that it has its source in a viral or bacterial infection that persists and eventually affects all the major bodily systems. Others think its source may be environmental-caused, for example, by those ubiquitous toxic chemicals such as OPs, which are, incidentally, designed to attack the nervous systems of their target species. The simple answer is that we do not know.

In the UK, funding for research into ME has concentrated on its psychological aspects. There is a school of psychiatry determined to claim the condition for its own, both in the UK and internationally. After many years of working in this sphere, I have observed the means by which any valid arguments for a biological cause are mocked and eventually overwhelmed by the noisier medical opposition. They ignore internationally recognised science on the grounds that it is not scientific. They find every reason to reject small-scale scientific research projects conducted in the UK because they are not representative. Members of their own profession who have a considerable degree of success in treating patients with ME are hounded out of business. By writing numerous papers which, of necessity because there is no one else to do it, are peer reviewed by their colleagues, they appear to have proved that there is no need for further research and that the doctors responsible for diagnosing and treating ME do not need to conduct any more than the basic range of tests on their patients.

The previous Administration did try to help patients with ME. The Chief Medical Officer commissioned a report, published in 2002, on the subject. It recognised that ME is an illness that is as chronic and disabling as MS. It recognised the shortfall in research and in NHS provision, particularly for children. The Chief Medical Officer recommended the setting up of specialist centres to diagnose and treat people with ME – £8.5 million was allocated for the purpose. There developed small pockets of excellence where patients were pleased with the provision. These tended to be fine for patients who were able to get to the centres, usually hospital-based, but for the 25 per cent of patients who are housebound and, worse still, bed-bound, there was little help. Some health authorities were so slow that their projects failed to get off the ground before the funding had dried up; others, based on psychiatric units, were regarded with suspicion by patients. What I am saying is that, because of the way that people have behaved over this illness, patients with ME are not getting access to ancillary helpers in the NHS.

Two later reports, the latest published earlier this year by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on ME, of which I was a member, again highlighted the lack of NHS provision for patients with ME. Both reports stressed the failure of the NHS to provide for children and the severely affected. NICE, in its CFS/ME guidelines, also recognised the variable severity of the illness and the lack of treatments available. It recommends that treatment should be tailored to the patient with the patient’s consent and that allied health professionals such as physiotherapists and psychologists must have knowledge of ME and be experienced.

Current NHS treatments depend upon a multidisciplinary approach. I know from experience that a hospital referral can be very unsatisfactory unless the consultant has an open mind and looks at more than just one “bit” of a patient. All too often when a patient fails to respond to the recommended treatment, he or she is blamed for the failure and a psychiatric referral ensues. There is no passing patients on to people who might be able to help them, such as cognitive behaviour therapists. There are an estimated 250,000 people with ME, most of whom are treated by professionals with very little, if any, understanding of their illness. Since specialist services are inadequate, many patients are left to fall upon their own resources. Some are fortunate, such as the patient who said, “By understanding how I could approach my daily activities in smaller chunks and hence planning for this, including fun activities, I ultimately became stable and could build from there”, or another who said, “One-to-one supervision from a very skilled and experienced therapist kept me on track, pulled me up when I needed it and gave me encouragement. They listened to me, believed in me, reflected my progress to me at times when I couldn’t see it”.

I cannot say how important being listened to and being believed are. I am pleased to see that the coalition intends that patients should have more say in the NHS provision of services. I also see that it is to discuss professional training with the royal colleges. However, until there is a cultural change among health professionals, patients with ME will continue to find it difficult to find help within the NHS. Until the professionals take time to listen to patients and to believe them, they will never develop the skills needed to enable them to help patients along the road to recovery.

I wish I had the solution to the suffering of people with ME. It seems that, no matter how often Ministers and senior officials confirm their acceptance of the seriousness of this condition, nothing will change until the culture both within and outside the NHS changes. I believe that in this particular case the patients, some of whom have experienced illness for decades while others have made excellent recoveries, have a huge amount of knowledge to impart. The Canadian guidelines to diagnosis and treatment of ME have, for reasons that have never been explained, repeatedly been rejected by health professionals and yet they are regarded by patients as providing the best course of action.

May I ask the noble Earl whether the coalition continues to accept that myalgic encephalomyelitis is a neurological illness as categorised by ICD10 G93.3? If he does, will he say how Her Majesty’s Government will ensure that there is sufficient qualified medical and allied professional expertise to treat patients with illnesses such as ME with the effectiveness and dignity they deserve?

The “noble Earl” to whom she was addressing her question in the final paragraph was Earl Howe, who is the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health. His direct response to the Countess was:

The noble Countess, Lady Mar, asked whether the coalition accepts that CFS/ME is a neurological condition. The Government accept that it is a neurological condition. In many cases, allied health professionals will have a role to play and it goes without saying that all of them should treat patients with respect and dignity, whatever their diagnosis.

The debate was launched by Baroness Gardner of Parkes who discussed the role of allied health professionals in maintaining the health and social well-being of people with long-term neurological conditions. Four other peers made substantive contributions to the debate


Full Hansard transcript

Hansard source (Citation: HL Deb, 11 October 2010, c393)

11 Oct 2010 : Column 379

Health: Neurological Conditions
Question for Short Debate

6.09 pm

Asked By Baroness Gardner of Parkes

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the role of allied health professionals in maintaining the health and social well-being of people with long-term neurological conditions.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords, the notice of the opportunity for this debate was very short, but the topic is an important one and I am delighted that we are debating it this evening. I thank those who are speaking. I know that in some cases they have had to alter their arrangements to enable them to be here and that many others who also have a particular interest in or knowledge of the subject cannot be here today.

I start by giving noble Lords the Royal College of Physicians’s definition of long-term neurological conditions:

“Long-term neurological conditions (LTNCs) form a diverse set of conditions resulting from injury or disease of the nervous system that will affect an individual for the rest of their lives. They include: sudden onset conditions (eg acquired brain injury of any cause (including stroke), spinal cord injury) intermittent conditions (eg epilepsy) progressive conditions (eg multiple sclerosis (MS), motor neurone disease (MND), Parkinson’s disease (PD) and other neurodegenerative disorders) stable conditions with/without age-related degeneration (eg polio or cerebral palsy). Taken together, LTNCs are more common than most clinicians realise. Some 10 million people in the UK are living with a neurological condition which has a significant impact on their lives, and they make up 19% of hospital admissions”. Continue reading “House of Lords short debate: Neurological health conditions 11 October 2010”

25% ME Group position statement on Lightning Process pilot study in children 8 to 18

25% ME Group position statement on Lightning Process pilot study in children 8 to 18


Today, the 25% ME Group has issued a position statement on the Dr Esther Crawley led RNHRD NHS FT Bath / University of Bristol proposed pilot study into the feasibility of recruiting to a randomised controlled trial (RCT)comparing the Lightning Process with specialist medical care.

The Medical Advisors to the 25% ME Group are Dr Byron Hyde (Canada) and former UK NHS paediatrician, Dr Nigel Speight.

Whilst I welcome the issuing of this statement, it should be noted that the press release announcing the pilot study was issued over five and a half months ago.

According to information provided by University of Bristol Information Rights Officer and their Director of Legal Sevices, information on the study and the research protocol is anticipated to be published on the University of Bristol website by the end of this month. 

This suggests that ethics approval for the pilot study may now have been obtained.

It is not known whether the 25% ME Group has or intends to make representations to any individual, institutions, organisations or bodies.

The document is heavily formatted and I will be posting a copy of the text, later.  In the meantime a Word version of the group’s statement can be opened here:

25% ME Group LP Research Position Statement 20.08.10

Lightning Process pilot: Update and response from Research Governance Manager, DoH

Lightning Process pilot for children with CFS and ME aged 8 to 18: Update and a response from Research Governance Manager, Department of Health


For background to this issue see ME agenda 5 July report:

Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) Adjudication: Withinspiration (Lightning Process)

For joint ME charity statement and press release see:

Joint Press Release and statement: ME Association and The Young ME Sufferers Trust


It’s now five and a half months since the RNHRD NHS FT Bath/University of Bristol announced its intention to undertake a pilot study looking into the application of the Lightning Process in children aged 8 to 18. The press release issued 2 March can be read here:  Press Release, a media article here: Media article.

Joint charity press release

On 4 August, the ME Association and The Young ME Sufferers Trust issued a joint statement and press release strongly opposing the pilot study and calling for it to be abandoned. Their joint press release can be read here.

The press release was issued too late for inclusion in the ME Association’s Autumn issue of ME Essential. But the magazine does include a write up, on Page 4, of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) adjudication against Lightning Process company “Withinspiration”.

ASA adjudication against Lightning Process company

In June, the ASA upheld a complaint against an advertisement in which unsubstantiated claims had been made about the efficacy of the Lightning Process for CFS and ME.

Read the full ASA adjudication against “Withinspiration” here

Alastair Gibson, the Lightning Process practitioner associated with the company, had let it be known in March that he was one of two Lightning Process practitioners involved with this controversial NHS study. This information no longer appears on the “Withinspiration” website and the current status of his involvement in this pilot study is unknown.

25% ME Group position

On 11 August, Simon Lawrence, Chair of the 25% ME Group Management Committee, confirmed that the 25% Group is intending to issue a position statement shortly and that my concerns and documents sent to them have now been passed on to their medical advisors, Dr Byron Hyde, Canada, and Dr Nigel Speight (former NHS paediatrician with a special interest in ME in children).

Requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act

On 22 July, I submitted a formal request to the University of Bristol’s Director of Legal Services for an internal review of their decision to withhold nearly all information around the study under FOIA Clause 22(1)(a). A response is due on or before 19 August. My request for an internal review can be read here.

On 3 August, I submitted a request for information to the National Research Ethics Service (NRES). This is due for fulfilment on or before 31 August. Questions submitted under FOIA around the application for ethics approval and the application timeline can be read here.

Responses from parliamentarians and government departments

In July, I approached my MP, Annette Brooke (Lib Dem, Mid Dorset and North Poole), for her involvement with this issue. (Mrs Brooke is the MP who gave the adjournment debate speech on ME before Parliament dissolved prior to the election and is now Vice-chair of the recently reformed APPG on ME.)

On 31 July, I received a copy of a paper letter from the Parliamentary Office of Annette Brooke to the Rt Hon Andrew Lansley MP, Secretary of State for Health, Department of Health, dated 29 July. Mrs Brooke has requested that the Secretary of State for Health look into this matter. A response is pending.

I also raised my concerns with the Countess of Mar, Lord Clement-Jones and Earl Freddie Howe, all three being Patrons to the Young ME Sufferers Trust. Earl Howe is the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Quality.

My communication was forwarded by Earl Howe to Matthew Harpur, Department of Health.  Mr Harpur forwarded it to Bill Davidson, Research Governance Manager, Department of Health, who has responded on behalf of Earl Howe.

Response from  Bill Davidson, Research Governance Manager, Department of Health on behalf of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Quality:

30 July 2010

Thank you for your e-mail of 16th July to the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Quality regarding a research project involving the “Lightning Process” in 8- to 18-year-olds with myalgic encephalomyelitis. Earl Howe has asked me to reply.

You are quite right that new treatments should be compared with current standards to see which is better. You are also right that this comparison should be made in appropriate participant groups.

New treatments are not generally tried out first in children before there is evidence of their safety and efficacy in adults, but sometimes it is appropriate to do so. It is a matter for a research ethics committee to be assured that the evidence supports the extension of the new treatment to children.

We require the decisions of research ethics committees to be independent and free from bias and particular stakeholder interests. It would therefore be inappropriate to have a mechanism through which particular stakeholders might seek to affect a research ethics committee’s decision. We require research ethics committees that become aware of a possible breach of good practice in research to inform the relevant authorities so that they can take appropriate action.

Our National Research Ethics Service publishes lay summaries of the research approved by research ethics committees. It is normal practice for researchers also to put details of interventional studies on an open-access register, before the first participant is recruited, unless there is very good reason for delaying disclosure.

I note that the outcome of the research ethics committee review of the proposal for this project has not yet been reached. I expect it will, in accordance with Department of Health policy, come to a decision that takes account of all the ethical issues, including the appropriateness of the proposed participant group.

Yours sincerely,

Bill Davidson
Research Governance Manager
Department of Health
Quarry House
Quarry Hill
Leeds LS2 7UE
Tel: 0113 254 6184 / 07900 164755
Fax: 0113 254 6174

Scientific trial involving children and the Lightning Process is unethical, says joint statement issued by two national ME charities

Joint Press Release and statement issued today by the ME Association and The Young ME Sufferers Trust


Update @ 11 August

On 4 August, the ME Association released a list of recipients of the press release issued earlier that day jointly with the Young ME Sufferers Trust.  The list is media recipients is appended beneath the press release.


ME agenda welcomes this very strong opposition statement from the ME Association and The Young ME Sufferers Trust.  The iniative to liaise with Trading Standards is also welcomed.

The  joint press release says:

“If any trial is to be held, it should first be on adults, who can give informed consent.”

My own position is that to undertake RCTs on any patient group would be giving credence to the Lightning Process as having potential as a treatment for ME and would also legitimise it, ethically, as a potential treatment. I would not want to see any RCTs into the application of the Lightning Process, whether undertaken with ME patients, MS patients or for any other medical disease, condition or syndrome.


For background to this issue see ME agenda 5 July report:

Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) Adjudication: Withinspiration (Lightning Process)


From the ME Association

Scientific trial involving children and the Lightning Process is unethical, says joint statement issued by two national ME charities

Wednesday, 04 August 2010 17:15

A plan to recruit children with ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome to a scientific trial comparing the efficacy of an unproven psychologically-based training programme with specialist medical care is “unethical”, say two of Britain’s leading ME/CFS charities – The ME Association and the Young ME Sufferers Trust.

In a joint statement issued today (4 August 2010), the two charities say:

We are issuing this joint statement due to widespread public concern, together with our own serious reservations, about a forthcoming study of the psychologically-based Lightning Process on children.

The pilot study, scheduled to start in September, will look at the feasibility of recruiting children aged eight to 18 with ME/CFS into a randomised controlled trial (RCT) comparing the Lightning Process with specialist medical care.

It is planned that over 90 children aged between eight and eighteen and their families will be involved in the study.

The Medical Research Council (MRC) produces specific guidelines for research involving vulnerable patient groups.

The document ‘MRC Medical Research Involving Children’ is quite clear on this issue. It poses the question: ‘Does the research need to be carried out with children?’ In answer, the MRC states: ‘Research involving children should only be carried out if it cannot feasibly be carried out on adults.’

The ME Association and The Young ME Sufferers Trust do not believe that it is ethically right to use children in trialling an unproven and controversial process such as the Lightning Process.

A survey of 4,217 people carried out by the ME Association on the management of ME/CFS found that over a fifth of those who had tried the Lightning Process were made worse (7.9% slightly worse,12.9% much worse). If any trial is to be held, it should first be on adults, who can give informed consent. No rigorous RCTs into the application of the Lightning Process have ever been undertaken.

Despite many years of scientific research there is still no single diagnostic test for ME/CFS, nor is there a curative treatment. The theory upon which the Lightning Process is based, together with its claim that the prolonged nature of the illness is caused by ‘the adrenaline, nor-adrenaline and cortisol loop’ is not scientifically proven. Moreover, the Advertising Standards Authority recently ruled that an advertisement in an internet sponsored link containing claims of its effectiveness by a Lightning Process practitioner should be removed. We understand that the practitioner will be involved in this study and we find this concerning.

The Trading Standards departments of two local authorities have also taken action over therapeutic claims by Lightning Process practitioners following referrals by Dr. Charles Shepherd of the ME Association. The Lightning Process calls itself a training programme, not a medical treatment, combining concepts from Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Life Coaching and Osteopathy. It claims to be effective for ME/CFS and psychological problems such as anxiety, stress, depression, guilt, low self esteem. Any evidence for this effectiveness on ME/CFS is purely anecdotal. ME has long been classified by the World Health Organisation as a neurological illness, not a psychological condition.

We cannot approve of a study involving children as young as eight when no rigorous trials have first been undertaken into the safety, acceptability, long and short-term effects of the application of this controversial and unregulated ‘process’ with adults.

Furthermore, we have serious concerns about the primary outcome measure, which is school attendance after six months. Children have a legal right to ‘suitable education’ for their particular needs, which may or may not include school attendance.

The statutory guidance ‘Access to Education for Children and Young People with Medical Needs’ explains that whilst it is desirable for children to be educated in school, other forms of education must be provided for those who need it. The Chief Medical Officer’s Working Group Report on CFS/ME (DOH 2002) stated that most children with ME will need education in their homes at some time, potentially for a considerable period. In 2009 the Education White Paper ‘Back on Track : A strategy for modernising alternative provision for young people’ included virtual education. Chapter 7, ‘Learning from the best and supporting innovation’, spoke of ‘e-learning and virtual provision, particularly for pupils who cannot attend school due to health needs.’ Accessible education is also provided for in disability discrimination law.

If school attendance is the primary outcome measure of this study, families involved may then feel pressurised into avoiding alternative forms of education which would benefit their children and to which they are legally entitled.

For all these reasons, it is our considered opinion that this study of the Lightning Process in children is unethical and should be abandoned.



‘£164,000 awarded for new research into the treatment of a chronic childhood condition’.

Press release issued by The Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases, which can be found at their press release page:

Advertising Standards Authority ruling:


MEA and TYMES Trust 4 August 10 press release recipients

(NB: this may not be a comprehensive list)

The press release has gone out to

The Times news desk
David Rose, health reporter, The Times
The Independent news desk
Steve Connor, science editor, The Independent
Jeremy Laurence, health editor, The Independent
Sunday Times news desk
Daily Telegraph news desk
Sunday Telegraph news desk
The Lancet news desk
BMJ news desk
Daily Star, news desk
The Sun, news desk
Daily Mail, news desk
Daily Mail, health editor
Fergus Walsh, BBC health correspondent
Western Morning News, newsdesk
Bristol Evening Post, news desk
Western Daily Press, news desk
Buckingham Advertiser
Bucks Herald
You and Yours, Radio 4
Today programme, Radio 4
Panorama, BBC 1
Dispatches, C4
Disability Now
Evening Gazette Colchester
Channel 4 news
Breakfast, BBC 1
GMTV news desk
Randeep Ramesh, health reporter, The Guardian (Sarah Boseley is on holiday til August 9)
The Guardian, news desk
Osteopathy magazine
East Anglian Daily Times, news desk
Daily Express, news desk
Daily Express, health editor
Private Eye, news desk
Anna Winkles, health reporter, BBC Online
Press Association, health editor
All Together Now magazine
Bath Chronicle
News of the World
Tom Moore, health editor, Sky News, and his news desk.
Stacey Poole, the ME-aware health editor at Meridian, ITV station for south of England.
Emailed Times Ed Supplement, highlighting educational aspects of the release and suggesting they speak with Jane Colby.

Inaugural meeting of the APPG for ME: Wednesday 30th June

Inaugural meeting of the APPG for ME: Wednesday 30th June


Update: On Friday, 25 June, the ME Association announced a change of date.  Please note that the APPG on ME inaugural meeting is now scheduled for Wednesday, 7 July.

Change of date for APPG on ME reformation meeting – now July 7

“Unfortunately, the Westminster meeting to reform the All Party Parliamentary Group on ME has had to be moved forward a week – to Wednesday, July 7. On the bright side, this does mean that there is more time to encourage your own MP to attend.”

Action for M.E. and the ME Association have published the following information:

Help make sure the All-Party Parliamentary Group for ME reforms

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

The All Party Parliamentary Group for M.E. (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) strives to support the improvement of health and social care of all people with M.E. in the UK. All APPGs were dissolved at the end of the last Parliament before the general election. Arrangements are being made to re-register this group as a matter of urgency.

An inaugural meeting of the APPG for ME will be held by David Amess MP on Wednesday 30th June, at Westminster.

The agenda will deal with appointment of office holders and members only and due to limitations of time and space it will not be possible to open the meeting to the public on this occasion. This is in order to ensure that the vital work required to re-register the APPG is carried out in a timely manner for the 13th July deadline.

It is vital that as many MPs as possible join the group as we need to identify at least 20 Parliamentarians to act as qualifying members. These must include at least ten who are not part of the government and of which at least six are members of the main opposition party i.e. Labour.

If you would like to help please send your local MP an email or letter asking them to join the APPG. There is a draft letter here to help get you started.

Open Word document here on ME Agenda: Example letter

or here on the ME Association’s website or here on Action for M.E.’s website

Dear __________________

As one of your constituents, I sincerely hope you will strongly support the interests of people with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E.), the long-term fluctuating illness also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), which is sometimes diagnosed as Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome (PVFS).

M.E. affects 250,000 people in the UK and is recognised by the NHS and National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence to be as disabling as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, congestive heart failure, and other chronic conditions yet it receives nowhere near the same degree of recognition or funding.

A very powerful way of demonstrating this to your constituents would be to join the All Party Parliamentary Group for M.E. and to help it to re-register in the new Parliament.

An inaugural election of officers at a meeting of the APPG for M.E. to be held by David Amess MP on Wednesday 30th June. This will not be a long affair but is a necessary preliminary to re-registration before the 13 July deadline.

I do hope that you will be able to attend but if this is not possible, could you please join the group anyway. We need to identify at least 20 Parliamentarians to act as “qualifying members” in order to remain on the approved list.

Yours sincerely


Ed: Note that this meeting is not a public meeting and the room number and time are not being publicised. If your MP expresses an interest in attending the inaugural meeting you may need to contact Action for ME’s Policy Officer, Tristana Rodriguez ( and ask for details of the meeting to be forwarded directly to your MP.  Alternatively, refer your MP to David Amess, MP, outgoing APPG for ME Treasurer, who is convening this inaugural meeting.

Minutes of previous APPG for ME Meetings and Legacy document

The APPG for ME website has PDF copies of Minutes of meetings going back to 31 January 2001 collated at:

APPG Legacy Paper 26.02.10


Clarification regarding membership of the APPG for ME

There have been misunderstandings on some forums that AfME (Action for M.E.), the MEA (The ME Association), AYME (Association of Young People with ME), TYMES Trust (The Young ME Sufferers Trust), The 25% ME Group, ME Research UK, BRAME (Blue Ribbon for Awareness of ME) and RiME (Campaigning for Research into ME) are all members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for ME.

None of the above are members of the APPG on ME.

In the case of Associate Parliamentary groups, applications for membership may be considered by the group’s officers from organisations, interest groups, commercial concerns and individuals other than MPs or Members of the House of Lords.

But the All-Party Parliamentary Group for ME is not constituted as an Associate Parliamentary Group and therefore only Members of the House of Commons or the House of Lords are permitted membership of the APPG for ME, and only Members of the House of Commons or Lords have voting rights at its meetings.

So the only members of the APPG for ME are parliamentarians.

From the office of the Parliamentary Commissioner:

“Groups are only required to register with us the names of their officers and of 20 ‘qualifying members’. The full membership list, including names over and above that, resides with the group and it is for them to ensure that it is comprehensive and up to date. […] Any MP (ie not just signed up members of the group) is entitled to turn up at any meeting of the group, and to speak and vote at the meeting – unless a subscription is charged in which case voting may be restricted to paid-up members of the group.”

At the time of publication, the House of Commons Session 2009-10, Register of All-Party Groups [As at 12 April 2010] can be accessed here:


The Nature of All-Party Groups
Purpose and Form of the ‘Register of All-Party Groups’
Purpose and Form of the ‘Approved List’ of Groups
Administration of the Register and Approved List

At the time of publication, the Registry entry for the outgoing APPG for ME group could be viewed here:

Under “BENEFITS RECEIVED BY GROUP FROM SOURCES OUTSIDE PARLIAMENT” Action for M.E. and the ME Association are listed as jointly providing the secretariat to the Group.

“Action for ME and The ME Association both provides secretarial support (addressing and stuffing envelopes, taking minutes, photocopying).”

In the past, AfME and the MEA have alternated the task of minute taking and the preparation and circulation of minutes and agendas for these meetings but they are not members of the APPG Group and their status as organisations and that of their representatives in relation to the Group is no different to that of any other organisation that sends a representative to attend these meetings.

Although APPG groups are not permitted to advertise their meetings as “Public Meetings”, meetings of the APPG on ME are held in House of Commons committee rooms and have been opened up to members of the public, that is, national ME patient organisations, representatives of the committees of “local” and regional ME support groups and other interested parties. 

They are also open to members of the ME community and their carers, who can and do regularly attend and contribute to these meetings. This has not always been the case and the presence of members of the public is at the discretion of the APPG chair and committee.

So none of the following five national registered membership ME patient organisations are members of the APPG for ME but they attend APPG meetings, send their representives to meetings, and in the case of AfME and the MEA, have provide the secretariat function: AfME (Action for M.E.), the MEA (The ME Association), AYME (Association of Young People with ME), TYMES Trust (The Young ME Sufferers Trust), The 25% ME Group.

ME Research UK : a research organisation and registered charity (Scotland), represented at APPG on ME meetings by Mrs Sue Waddle, a former trustee of Invest in ME.

BRAME : unregistered, non membership, run by Christine Harrison and her daughter, Tanya. Both Christine and Tanya attend APPG on ME meetings.

RiME : unregistered, non membership, run by Paul Davies. Paul Davies attends APPG on ME meetings, sometimes supported by other individuals.

The names of ME patients and carers attending meetings are recorded in the minutes of meetings and their contributions to these meetings are minuted.

For the past couple of meetings, an official verbatim transcript has been prepared from an audio recording of the procedings and this has been published alongside briefer minutes. This parliamentary service has been funded by Action for M.E. and the ME Association.

It is not known whether transcripts will continue to be provided for the meetings of any new group that may be convened. It is unconfirmed whether minutes will be published for the inaugural meeting or whether representatives of the outgoing group’s secretariat will be present.

I hope this clarifies any misconceptions about policy and proceedings at these meetings and the status of the organisations and individuals who attend them.

A Guide to the Rules on All Party Groups can be downloaded here:

or opened here on ME agenda

APPG Groups Rules

IACFSME publishes submission to DSM-5 public review process

IACFSME (International Association for CFS/ME) publishes submission to DSM-5 public review process


Today, 25 March the IACFSME issued an alert for international CFS and ME professionals and published a copy of the organisation’s own submission in the DSM-5 public review process. 

Notice from IACFSME: DSM-5 May Include CFS as a Psychiatric Diagnosis

“The DSM-5 Task Force of the American Psychiatric Association is asking for public comment to their proposed DSM-5 manual of psychiatric diagnoses scheduled for release in 2013. We are concerned about the possibility of CFS/ME being classified as a psychiatric disorder, based on comments made in their Work Group on somatoform disorders (see letter below). Of course, such an action would be a major setback in our ongoing efforts to legitimize and increase recognition of the illness…”

The IACFSME notice and submission can be read here on DSM-5 and ICD-11 Watch or here on the IACFSME site .


Submissions by US patient organisations

The March issue of CFIDSLink-e-News reports that the CFIDS Association of America is seeking input from outside experts into the DSM-5 public review process.

The Whittemore Peterson Institute has announced on its Facebook site that it intends to submit a response.

Submissions by UK patient organisations

On 4 March, I contacted seven national UK organisations.  I will update on responses received, so far, in the next couple of days. The following UK patient representative and research organisations have been contacted:

Action for M.E.
ME Association
The Young ME Sufferers Trust
Invest in ME
The 25% ME Group
ME Research UK

The DSM-5 public review period runs from 10 February to 20 April. Members of the public, patient representation organisations, professionals and other end users can submit responses, online.

Please take this opportunity to comment and to alert and encourage professionals and international patient organisations to participate in the DSM-5 public review process. 

If the proposals of the “Somatic Symptom Disorders” Work Group were to be approved there will be medical, social and economic implications to the detriment of all patient populations – especially those bundled by many psychiatrists under the so-called “Functional Somatic Syndromes” (FSS) and “Medically Unexplained Syndromes” (MUS) umbrellas, under which they include CFS, ME, FM, IBS, CI, CS, chronic Lyme disease, GWS and others.

Register here:

Related information:

[1] APA’s new DSM-5 Development webpages:

[2] Somatoform Disorders:

[3] Complex Somatic Symptom Disorder (CSSD):

[4] Key documents:

 PDF Somatic Symptom Disorders Introduction DRAFT 1/29/10

 PDF Justification of Criteria – Somatic Symptoms DRAFT 1/29/10

Telegraph: Letters to the Editor: Breaking the ME enigma (jointly signed by ME spokespersons)

Telegraph: Letters to the Editor: Breaking the ME enigma (jointly signed by ME spokespersons)


Telegraph  |  06 February 2010

Breaking the ME enigma

SIR – The death of Lynn Gilderdale and the humane verdict in the trial of her mother brought home to many people for the first time what a devastating illness myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) can be.

Many of the estimated quarter of a million people with ME in Britain experience not only extreme pain and disability, but also incomprehension, ignorance, lack of sympathy and at times outright hostility, not only from the public but also from professionals responsible for their care.

Such lack of understanding even extends to blaming parents for the severity of their child’s illness.

It is time the nation began to take ME seriously. Provision of adequate clinical and other services by properly informed and sympathetic professionals is currently subject to a postcode lottery. Such provision should avoid inappropriate treatments, and range from support for home tuition for school-age children to respite care for the severely affected.

Above all, we should fund biomedical research to resolve the enigma of the underlying pathology of this illness. We should build on recent scientific advances to develop effective treatments, so that no one in future need experience the pain, isolation and despair that were Lynn Gilderdale’s fate.

Countess of Mar
Secretary, All Party Parliamentary Group on ME
Dr Neil Abbot
Operations Director, ME Research UK
Jane Colby
Executive Director, The Young ME Sufferers Trust
Anne Faulkner
Hon Director, CFS Research Foundation
Tanya Harrison
Chairman, BRAME
Malcolm Hooper
Emeritus Professor of Medicinal Chemistry, University of Sunderland
Andy Kerr MSP
Dr Jonathan Kerr
Consultant Senior Lecturer, St George’s, University of London
Simon Lawrence
Chairman, 25 per cent ME Group
Kathleen McCall
Chairman, Invest in ME
Dr Luis Nacul
Consultant in Public Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Professor
Derek Pheby
National ME/CFS Observatory
Neil Riley
Chairman, ME Association
Dr Charles Shepherd
Dr Nigel Speight
Sir Peter Spencer
Chief Executive Officer, Action for ME
Des Turner MP
Chairman, All Party Parliamentary Group on ME
Dr William Weir
Mary-Jane Willows
Chief Executive Officer, Association of Young People with ME
Andrew Stunell MP
Vice Chairman, All Party Parliamentary Group for ME