Category: APPG 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:

Former ME Association Chair, Chris Ellis, writes to Chair, APPG on ME

Former ME Association Chair, Chris Ellis, writes to Chair, APPG on ME


Mr Ellis, who resigned as Chair and Trustee of the ME Association Board of Trustees in February 2004, wrote to Dr Des Turner, MP, a few weeks ago, after reading the Minutes of the December meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on ME.

Mr Ellis has kindly given permission for his letter to be published on ME agenda and Co-Cure mailing list and is to be commended for speaking out so passionately in support of those members of the ME community who struggle to attend these meetings and who represent the interests of those unable to participate.

Des Turner MP
House of Commons

08 February 2010

Dear Mr Turner

You are to be commended for your courage in taking the chair at any meeting concerning ME. Obviously you must have been aware previously that there is a sizeable bone of contention between certain factions of those people who are focused on progressing the interests of M.E. sufferers. That such a rift exists, reflects the wide variations in the severity of the condition (a variety mentioned by the Minister himself) and is a considerable factor behind such bitter disagreement.

From the minutes of the last APPG meeting it seems patently clear to me that you (and the Countess) do not acknowledge a similar act of courage to your own from ME sufferer Mr Paul Davis and some of his supporters given the severity of the condition encountered by these people. Merely attending the meeting is in itself an ordeal which prevents others with similar problems from playing any part in fighting their corner. Mr. Davis’s efforts are truly Herculean and the Chair, whatever the difficulties, must recognise this and, on all occasions, give respect, at least, to his views. Mr Davis and his supporters are fighting for their very lives and this cannot be said, with the best will in the world, in respect of the “professionals” who represent the large charities. Mr Davis does indeed carry the hopes of many sufferers of severe ME who, however, are effectively disenfranchised by the fact that government and the APPG meetings both operate from a far corner of the UK so that, given their debilitating illness, they find the time and distance to be problems which they are completely unable to endure. Let this never be forgotten.

Quite frankly, your treatment of Mr Davis was nothing less than appalling and revealed a complete lack of skill for anyone acting as Chair. You openly admit, as reported in the minutes, that AFME and MEA were the only groups consulted, a fact which needed to be brought to attention at the outset. Your “reason” for carrying out this act of impartiality being “because they are the only people who assist with the running of the Group” (APPG) is completely outrageous and does not bear thinking about. (I trust that this is not a usual Parliamentary practice). Given the widely known polarised views on M.E., this impartiality is a blatant slap in the face for Mr Davis and his supporters in RIME.

To the injury supplied to Mr Davis above you then had the audacity to add insult. Your recorded stab at Mr Davis “I know you feel that you represent MILLIONS of patients” was unacceptably contemptuous. (It is, however, pertinent to state what the Minister himself said, that the number of M.E. sufferers is not actually verifiable, which is a comment in itself about the progress made with M.E.). To cap it all, the minutes record that, in repost to a supporter of Mr Davis that “important points” had been made by Mr Davis and his colleagues, you retorted “I have yet to hear one.” Bias, Mr Chairman? You supply any synonym you like.

– 2 –

Turning now to the APPG report itself, the hotly disputed subject of CBT and GET treatments receives a bias which is unacceptable to the RIME faction I would think The minutes themselves show that the Minister himself has some reservations when he says “concerns have been expressed about the acceptability, efficiency and safety of several treatments including CBT and GET”. The report finds that these objections “might relate to the fact that they are not being delivered by properly trained healthcare workers”. Indeed a plausible concern and yet the obvious possibility that they just do not work and are dangerous when applied to M.E. sufferers (as distinct from the CFS hotchpotch) is not expressed. (Could it possibly be that I might be able to use the Psychiatric terminology that some people are “in denial” about such a hypothesis?). I would like to have been better informed about the submissions behind the report’s words “in part due to the fixed attitudes about causation by some health professionals”.

I would like to think that a more sympathetic manner will prevail towards Mr Davis and RIME in the future. I do believe that it is quite possible to remove most of the rancour if one simple action is taken.

And now I must offer you MY OWN APOLOGIES for the vehemence of the above words addressed to yourself. As the father of a young woman who, in her early twenties, contracted ME, who has continued to suffer a variety of severe symptoms (chronic “fatigue” indeed) for around 15 or so years AND has had to bear the “yuppie flue” stigma and the outrageous statements made by certain so-called eminent psychiatrists in the early years, I ask for your forgiveness. Yours is not an easy job, indeed.

Let us rid ourselves of much of the disputation at APPG meetings; let us achieve a more unified approach by ME organizations; just one simple and, what is more, virtually costless manoeuvre might well do the trick. Let us take the SPECIFIC application of the psychiatric initiatives out of the SPECIFIC ME equation. Let us simply re–name the local area clinics and associated baggage, which have hitherto been designated to ME, and let the new name reflect a comprehensive application of psychiatric treatments to any number of appropriate medical conditions. Given that it must be assumed that the medical profession approve of the likes of CBT and GET and must also be satisfied of the cost effectiveness of the present setup, surely it cannot be that such treatments would not benefit the recovery in a wide variety of illnesses.

Once removed from the equation SPECIFICALLY currently applied to ME, the hotly disputed psychiatric contribution to the subject would no longer be pivotal in causing such havoc in the realms of ME politics. You and the APPG would have a far quieter life, the Minister would have a much smaller angry postbag, the medical establishment would not I feel be terribly aroused and the cost would be minimal. Any mileage in this?

Yours sincerely


Related material

RiME response to APPG on ME Legacy Paper

APPG Legacy Paper 26.02.10

Minutes and Verbatim Transcript meeting of the APPG on ME held 2 December 2009

RiME: Summary of APPG on ME meeting: 2 December 2009

RiME: Summary of APPG on ME meeting: 2 December 2009


Permission to Repost

Campaigning for Research into ME (RiME)

RiME Summary of APPG Meeting 2/12/09

Dec. 1

Minutes of last meeting and APPG Draft Legacy Document, written by AfME and MEA, distributed over internet.

Dec. 2

3.00pm – 3.18pm attendees given copy of Interim Report ‘APPG on ME Inquiry into NHS Service Provision for ME/CFS’.

3.18pm meeting starts. Dr. Des Turner APPG Chair says you’ve got the Report; I’ll run you throught it; then I’ll introduce Health Minister Mike O’Brien who will talk about the Report; he’ll take a few questions but must leave by4.00pm. Dr. Turner says he is not entirely satisfied with Report; hence Interim Report; full report in due course; conclusions will remain the same.

Paul Davis RiME has hand up. If I remember correctly, Turner looked at me and nodded. I raised concerns about consultation asking if only AfME and MEA had been involved. Dr. Turner said that was the case.

Paul Davis said you (Dr. Turner) are biased toward AfME and MEA who support the clinics.

Dan Ward Norfolk Group said yes.

Ciaran Farrell said I want to support Paul’s point. Dr. Turner stopped him.

Nicky Zussman said she agrees with Paul’s point.

3.22pm Lady Mar said I move that these two individuals (Davis and Farrell?) are removed from the room. Nicky Zussman says they shouldn’t be removed from the room.

Lady Mar says if they’re not going I am. She leaves the room.

Nicky Zussman continues, saying that we are the patients, and that the APPG should be for the patients, but we don’t have a voice in it; you (Turner) are treating us like children.

Dr. Turner gets to his feet. He says, in raised voice, these two individuals have stretched my patience to its limits and he has a good mind to leave too.

Mary Jane Willows AYME and Jill Cooper West Midlands ME Consortium beg him to stay.

Dr. Turner says, in raised voice, he will stay but if there is one more interruption he will leave.

Dr. Turner goes through 11 key recommendations of Interim Report. There is no time for discussion.

3.47pm Dr. Turner introduces Mike O’Brien. Mike O’Brien said the CMO Report 2002 was a major turning point but the system had not responded adequately and put in place the various clinical, administrative and funding pathways recommended by the CMO Report. The APPG Report was another milestone; its recomendations were sound. ME was a complex, diverse condition. There are different views on treatment – Lightning Process (LP), CBT, GET – depends what works for you. Problems re. services are at a local level becuase ministers no longer rule from Westminster. The area of research was difficult; he was willing to talk to MRC about patients’ concerns. Stop arguing among yourselves.

Janet Taylor Kirklees Yorks talked about neurological services in her area, saying they had been disregarded, ‘what are you going to do about it?’

Janice Kent ReMember was sceptical about LP; Dr. Mike Broughton (Clinical Lead Sussex Services) said it only worked on people who aren’t ill.

Dr. Charles Shepherd MEA said there had been a dismal response from PCTs; they will not provide services at local level. O’Brien: local groups must unite to get proper services. Shepherd: you should be speaking to PCTs. O’Brien: it doesn’t work that way any more.

Dan Ward Norfolk Group said a young ME patient had been asked to prove their fatigue.

Minutes: Paul Davis said he switched his computer on yesterday afternoon to find the minutes and the APPG Legacy Draft Paper. Insufficient time for ME patients to read and digest. Questions Peter Spencer AfME. Spencer says it was due to the short time between meetings. Andrew Stunell MP calls for the minutes to be adopted, but it is agreed they will be bound over.

Dr. Shepherd on XMRV. He had met a number of doctors at MRC. Replication studies are happening and are about to take place in the UK. Early results based on Fukuda CDC criteria patients. Says funding will not be a problem.

Legacy Paper: Dr. Turner says it will be guiding not binding (patients unclear as to what will happen next).

Venue of APPG Meetings: Paul Davis asked if meetings could be held at Portcullis House with easier access for disabled persons. Turner says House of Commons is best place for them.

Welfare: Peter Spencer said evidence suggests that fewer people are getting support.

Disclaimer: the above is based on mine and others’ scribbled notes; cannot guarantee 100% accuracy.

Overview    Control Freakery Taken to New Heights?

Dec.1 RiME wrote to Tristana Rodriguez AfME asking if ME patients were expected to read all the information sent out (see above) by 3.15pm the next day. No reply. Dec. 2 Let’s focus on main topic – Interim Report on Services set up following CMO Report:

First, the Interim Report was handed out shortly before the meeting to attendees, giving them inadequate time to read, digest and comment. It seemed to be presented like a fait accompli. It is evident now that the only ME parties consulted were AfME and the MEA. There are several points I want to make, here:

1. The two charities have supported the clinics from the outset. Their view contrasts with that of RiME and other ME organisations. There is a difference, though: RiME’s concerns about the clinics are backed up by substantial evidence – see our website, Clinics and Letters folders. Theirs is not. We refute their view on that basis.

2. That the APPG would only consult with these two organisations who support the clinics (on what basis?) demonstrates bias.

3. Are these two misguided organisations misleading politicians?

4. The influence of these two organisations within the APPG is totally disproportionate to the size of their memberships; they probably wouldn’t represent 5% of ME patients between them; and their respective memberships seem to be declining.

5. They have an unfair advantage at meetings in that they are ‘in the know’.

What happened at the start of the meeting needs to be viewed within that larger context. First, there is no need for me to defend my action; I acted within the code of conduct. I had my hand up from the start of the meeting; if I remember correctly, Des Turner looked at me; nodded; I spoke. One could make out a case that the meeting was interrupted in that Dr. Turner was talking about the content of the Interim Report, and I took matters back to pre-report; but I stand by what I did; it was a point which I (and others) felt needed making then; and I wanted the objection recorded.

The allegation which was made about the conduct of myself and two others does not stand up. The only person who appeared to be aggressive at the start of the meeting was the Chair (will return to this).

It is disappointing if a few read one of two inaccurate accounts and then jump on the bandwagon; what follows is the usual spiral of claims and counter-claims on the internet which helps no-one; we say to the former: listen to what several have to say before jumping in; and be more careful.

There seems to be a few who feel that the way forward still is to ‘educate and persuade’ politicians. I suggest they read the RiME website, especially ForT and Second Petition folders. I asked Tony Wright to start a Group at the beginning of 1998. Myself and others asked him to pay detailed attention to matters of nomenclature and classification, and focus upon the need for biomedical research. Did he and others heed what we said? No. We say to the above, especially newcomers: Get yourself informed, understand the history, don’t run before you can walk…

Too, there are a few who say we must be nice to one another and the politicians, whatever this means. This is all very well, but when one has tried that approach and got no results, is it sensible to continue that way? In the face of prolonged injustice, is one not entitled to challenge the politicians and national ME charities and make one’s points in a firm, decisive way?

Moving on to the conduct of Lady Mar and Des Turner:

Lady Mar: to say Lady Mar’s action was an over-reaction would be an understatement. If she had said that she objected to the line of questioning and would like it minuted, that’s one thing; if she had said that she objected to the line of questioning and, that if the persons concerned continued in that vein, they should be asked to leave – it would seem OTT. But no, she wanted ME patients forceably removed. For what? Raising issues about consultation.

Dr. Turner: well, he appeared to either lose it or be close to losing it; following Lady Mar’s departure, he seemed to shout at us like naughty school children. Re. what he said – see summary.

We deem the behaviour of both politicians inappropriate and unacceptable. What are they frightened of? The truth?

To sum up: these are the ugliest incidents I have seen to date at an APPG meeting. Were we surprised? Yes and no. Yes, by the extremity of what happened. No, in that it is an extension of what has happened at past meetings. Clearly, there is friction between those run and seek to control the Group and ME patients. The reason behind this is not just to do policy (and consultation), but the way meetings are mis-chaired….

Remember that APPG meetings were only opened up to the public in 2006 (this would seem to be after RiME’s representations to the Parliamentary Commissioner). From the outset there was very much a feeling of ‘them and us’ or ‘patricians and plebs’. At an early stage, it became apparent that the politicians and secretariat (AfME and MEA) could speak when they wanted to and for as long as they wanted (enabling them to influence the course of meetings); whereas, the mere patients had to wait on the discretion of the Chair; consequently we had situations where ME patients (1) would sit indefinitely with their hands up (2) would be stopped from speaking by politicians (3) were not protected from interruption. Have a look at what happened July 2007 and January 2008 (RiME website, APPG meetings folder).

As Nicky pointed out, it has been a Group which is not for ME patients but about them: a Group which is primarily about promoting Government policy (not about G93.3 ME) with its cheap, inappropriate options for ME patients….

Re. the contents of the Interim Report, RiME will post on this shortly (also, RiME’s submission on APPG Legacy Document). Enough for now.

Unwanted Xmas cards – please send to RiME, 10 Carters Hill Close, Mottingham, SE9 4RS

Paul Davis

Minutes and Verbatim Transcript: APPG on ME meeting 2 December 2009

Minutes and Verbatim Transcript of APPG on ME meeting 2 December 2009 published

Date of next meeting of APPG on ME announced as Wednesday 10 March 2010


ME Association

Thursday, 14 January 2010 15:22

The next meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on ME will be held 1.30-3pm, Wednesday 10 March 2010, Committee Room 18, House of Commons. The agenda will follow in due course.

The APPG on M.E. will be open to members of the public. Before they travel, visitors should check for announcements on the Action for M.E. and ME Association websites, as the meeting room may change at very short notice if it is required by a parliamentary committee.

Entrance to the meeting will at the St Stephen’s Door to the House of Commons, and then ask the way to Committee Room 18. Please allow sufficient time in case there are big queues waiting to go through the security gatehouse. There is separate access for people in wheelchairs.

The minutes and a full transcript of the last meeting in December are available for downloading here.

Please note: amendments to minutes should be put in writing to the Secretariat one week before the meeting.

Email Tristana Rodriguez

or write to: Tristana Rodriguez, Action for M.E., Canningford House, 38 Victoria Street, Bristol BS1 6BY.

The official minutes of the meeting of the APPG on ME held on 2 December 2009 – together with a verbatim transcript – are now available for downloading from this website.

In response to demand, they are offered in both pdf and Word formats.

Minutes APPG on ME 02.12.09 Word

Minutes APPG on ME 02.12.09 PDF

Transcript APPG on ME 02.12.09 Word  


Next meeting – 10 March, Committee Room 18, 1.30-3pm.

You can find them at the MEA website at:

APPG on ME website

Report of Meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on ME by John Sayer


Update: A second report, in the form of a YouTube video, has also been published:

Dr Charles Shepherd’s unofficial summary of the 2 December APPG on ME meeting, published on behalf of the ME Association on 4 December, can be read here:

Summary of meeting of APPG on ME 2 December 2009:


Video Report on the UK Parliament All Party Group, APPG, on ME meeting of the 2nd of December

The APPG on ME met on the second of December this year to conclude the Inquiry the APPG has been conducting into publicly funded UK NHS health services for people with ME. APPGs are low level parliamentary committees made up of members of the elected House of Commons and the unelected second or upper tier of Parliament.

However, APPGs are not part of the structure of the UK Government and neither are they part of the official parliamentary committee structure for the scrutiny of government legislation or government departments like the Health Select Committee which scrutinises the Secretary of State for Health and their junior ministerial colleges in order to have parliamentary oversight of the Department of Health.

The main purpose of the APPG on ME’s Inquiry was to interest the Health Select Committee in setting up a similar and more powerful and well resourced Inquiry into NHS services for people with ME. This appears to be a very unlikely outcome given the way the APPG’s Inquiry was conducted and the way in which the Inquiry was concluded.

The meeting of the APPG held on 2/12/09 has proved to be a particularly controversial one and there have been a number of rumours running around the Internet about what took place. The first of a series of three videos gives a factual account of what took place at this meeting with comment and analysis. The remaining videos set out the background to the Inquiry from its inception through to the way in which the Inquiry was carried out.

I would therefore recommend that anyone who has seen the various accounts of the proceedings of the 2nd of December meeting on the Internet might like to watch these videos in order to place the events of the 2nd of December meeting in wider context of the APPG Inquiry as a whole, and then judge matters accordingly.

The report on the meeting of the 2nd of December APPG meeting can be viewed on the You Tube Channel action4change4me at :-

The background to the APPG Inquiry can be found from a previous video report of the 1st of April 2009 APPG meeting which deals with the setting up and launching of the Inquiry which can be viewed through the You Tube Channel action4change4me at :-

There is another video report on the APPG on ME meeting of the 8th of October 2008 at which the APPG first decides to initiate the Inquiry, which can be viewed on the You Tube Channel GBC One here :-

Ciaran Farrell

15 December 2009


Meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on M.E.
12 December 2009

Report by John Sayer (Chair M.E. Support-Norfolk)

This was the first APPGME meeting I’d ever been able to attend (thanks to Dan, of M.E. Support-Norfolk, driving us down to London) and I’ve now seen for myself how the APPGME operates.

I was not impressed.

Worst of all was the appallingly unprofessional and unhelpful behaviour of the Chairman, Des Turner MP** and the Secretary, the Countess of Mar, right at the start of the meeting: Paul Davis (RiME) had tried to make a point to Turner as he started his opening remarks, and instead of the latter asking him to wait till he’d finished so he could take comments and/or questions (which would be the professional, polite and normal thing for someone chairing a meeting to do), he shouted at Davis for interrupting – like an angry teacher in a classroom – and continued remonstrating, subsequently also turning on attendee Ciaran Farrell, when he politely tried to calm the situation.

There must have been some background history of tension here, since there was no justification for Turner’s over-the-top outburst, and in the middle of his continuing rant Mar suddenly demanded that Davis and Farrell be ejected, otherwise she herself would leave. But without waiting for any response, and with attendees looking stunned and/or bemused, she grabbed her things, said she was leaving anyway, and promptly walked out.

Turner continued with his diatribe, and with belligerent looks and gestures, widened the target of his rebukes to apparently include the whole row of us who were seated together, at one point jabbing a finger in our direction and threatening to have anyone who interrupted him escorted out of the building by the police!

It was an apparent case of Turner, having lost his temper, further getting carried away with his emotions, because he then threatened to leave the meeting as well, actually getting to his feet and gathering up his papers. (Other attendees seated opposite us implored him to stay, which he did.)

This entire episode was completely ridiculous, and I suspect it was a case of Turner and Mar having anticipated trouble for some reason and behaving accordingly, but with no actual cause to do so. It was farcical.

As for the rest of the meeting, we ‘peasants’ were generally treated with what I can only describe as disdain. I would have been open-minded about anyone else’s account if I hadn’t experienced it for myself. It was a disgrace, in my view, and as far as I’m concerned we can do without ‘champions’ like these. What the motivation is for being involved, I don’t know, but I suspect it might have something to do with seeking to maintain control of ‘the movement’ through whatever channels available, the APPGME being just one of them.

My suspicions that this episode was artificially engineered were given strength by the subsequent address by Mike O’Brien MP**, Minister of State for Health Services, who – describing M.E. as “a set of conditions” (!) – appeared to labour the point that one of the obstacles to progress was the lack of unity and agreement amongst patient groups. (Where have we heard that one before?) How coincidental and convenient that the meeting began so ‘controversially’ and demonstrated what a bunch of ungrateful, bolshy irritants we M.E. patients are!

The overwhelming impression I got from this meeting (and not in isolation, as I’ve been following accounts of previous APPGMEs) is that the whole enterprise is becoming a sham. Having dragged myself down to London (at a cost that doesn’t need explaining here), I was well and truly hacked off at the Secretary walking out before the meeting had even got going, being treated like a pariah by a Chairman threatening to end the meeting and having chronically ill patients removed by the police, and being patronised by a Minister whose address was the epitome of political spin. O’Brien seemed to believe that having M.E. meant some days feeling poorly and some days feeling well – well enough to have a part-time job, in fact. So we know where he’s coming from: apparently the same place as Yvette Cooper MP** (guest speaker at the previous APPGME meeting), Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, who ‘had M.E’ some years ago but is now ‘fully recovered’…

In the meantime, Dr Charles Shepherd of the Myalgic Encephalopathy Association (MEA), has put his own account of the meeting on the MEA web site here


“Unfortunately, the meeting got off to an extremely regrettable start – all due to a very small section of the audience making repeated and sometimes very aggressive interruptions about various administrative matters. As a result of this gross discourtesy to the Minister, the time available for the ministerial response was being steadily eroded. Despite several polite requests from the Chairman, the interruptions continued. As a result, the Countess of Mar terminated her involvement with the meeting. The Chairman then stated that he would either terminate the meeting or arrange for those involved to be removed from the committee room by the House of Commons police if their interruptions continued. Shortly after, those involved calmed down and we managed to start dealing with the real business of the APPG report.

“On a personal note I am very much in favour of public attendance/contribution at these meetings. However, it needs to be said that if people with ME/CFS want to alienate parliamentary opinion about this illness, and not even have an APPG to put forward their case to ministers etc, then behaving in an aggressive and unpleasant manner is a very good method for achieving this aim. We already have a situation whereby some MPs are unwilling or reluctant to attend APPG meetings – all because of the obsessive and often unpleasant interruptions about administrative matters. And it could well be that after the Election, when the APPG will have to be reformed, it will be very difficult to find enough parliamentarians who are willing to take on an active APPG role. We just cannot afford to risk losing the support of distinguished parliamentarians like the Countess of Mar. It also needs to be said that the vast majority of people with ME/CFS who were present on Wednesday, or were being represented, had come to hear about the report, listen to the Minister, and then ask difficult questions about NHS services – they did not want to take up valuable time listening to complaints about the minutes and APPG administration. This could (and should) have waited till after the Minister had left.”

I’m afraid to say that this version of events at the start of the meeting is so inaccurate as to be justifiably called false. It is not just a distortion of the facts, it is blatantly wrong and I’m now ready to believe that this shameful episode really was deliberately engineered, in order to cast certain individuals – or ‘the M.E. community’ in general – in as bad a light as possible, presumably for the benefit of the Minister of State for Health Services and/or the TV production crew apparently, according to Shepherd’s notes, in attendance.

The “audience” as Shepherd calls us here, did not behave “in an aggressive and unpleasant manner”. Yes, technically speaking and in line with protocol, Davis should perhaps have waited for Turner to finish speaking before seeking to make a point to the Chair, but this was hardly the Crime of the Century and was certainly not a “very aggressive interruption”, as Shepherd would have it.

Neither did Turner make “several polite requests”; he was rude and abusive, to the point of verbal assault. That’s the simple truth. He behaved like an angry, out of control teacher trying to silence a pupil. It was a disgrace and an embarrassment and completely uncalled for. The ‘continued interruptions’ Shepherd refers to were actually contributions from those trying to calm Turner down – including, as I recall, Sir Peter Spencer, CEO of Action for ME!

It is not correct to say, “As a result [of the ‘contuinued interruptions’], the Countess of Mar terminated her involvement with the meeting”. She delivered an ultimatum and then left before anyone could even consider it. There was no need for “those involved” to “calm down”, because people were calm – so calmly spoken in contrast to Turner’s agitated outpourings, in fact, that it was a strain to hear what they were trying to say.

As if to reinforce O’Brien’s assertion that it is partly the fault of ‘the M.E community’ that progress is not being made, Shepherd writes, “…it needs to be said that if people with ME/CFS want to alienate parliamentary opinion about this illness, and not even have an APPG to put forward their case to ministers etc, then behaving in an aggressive and unpleasant manner is a very good method for achieving this aim. We already have a situation whereby some MPs are unwilling or reluctant to attend APPG meetings – all because of the obsessive and often unpleasant interruptions about administrative matters.”

No mention here of the APPGME Chairman “behaving in an aggressive and unpleasant manner” (which he did). No, let’s blame M.E. sufferers themselves for the lack of progress. This excuse just won’t wash any more, and in my own opinion, anyone – MP or otherwise – who is reluctant to get involved in our cause because of the justifiable frustration generally of M.E. patients who have had to suffer denigration, neglect and abuse for decade on decade, is quite simply of no use to us in the first place and we could well do without them.

(It is a ruse, in my view, to attempt to lay some of the blame for the lack of progress in our cause at the feet of patients attending these APPGME meetings and to thereby prejudice the understanding of those not privy to the facts. I have now reached the point, after 17 years, where I seriously believe that too many of our ‘supporters’ are not there to help us at all, but to make sure we don’t actually get any help.)

And if they can’t cope with the issues surrounding ill and vulnerable people, how do MPs manage to deal with their constituents, and voters in general? (With the compensation of a life sweetened by the payment of their moat repairs, damp-proofing, fancy dress wigs and porn movies, perhaps?)

This meeting “got off to an extremely regrettable start” , alright – but not because of the M.E. patients present; it was thanks to the Chairman’s and Secretary’s inability to control themselves. But there’s no need to take my (or anyone else’s) word for what happened: the meeting was officially audio-recorded, and the transcript should eventually be made available for all to see.

Little wonder Shepherd refers in his account to “the audience” at this meeting. As far as I could make out, we were an audience, alright – watching a contrived performance.



(From the Daily Telegraph supplement “The Complete Expenses Files”; italicised comments are my own):

Des Turner (salary £64,766) Des Turner is a former teacher [aha!] with a PhD in biochemistry. He claimed mortgage interest payments of up to £450 per month on a flat in London and also claimed up to £400 each month on food… [Note – the MPs’ expenses allowance for food alone is equivalent to Incapacity Benefit payments for those unable to work!]

Mike O’Brien (salary £104,050) Claimed £825 for a Sony television in 2006-7, breaching £750 limit, and repaid money following year so he could move it to other home. Claimed £30 for a DVD player in March 2008, plus £250 a month mortgage interest on his designated second home in Nuneaton and £200 a month for food and more for other bills.

Yvette Cooper (salary £141,866) …At one point, Miss Cooper, the new Work and Pensions Secretary, and Mr Balls [husband], the Children’s Secretary, had their expenses docked, having each submitted two monthly claims for mortgage interest for nearly twice the cost of their actual payments. The couple denied flipping after switching their second home designation three times, saying that they had not sought to maximise their expenses and that, unlike some colleagues, they had paid capital gains tax on selling their home…In total, the couple claimed £24,400 between them on their second home allowance last year…

[And it’s the sick and disabled these people are supposed to help who are branded “benefits scroungers”?]

ME Association: Summary of meeting of APPG on ME 2 December 2009

Ed: Note that Dr Charles Shepherd has used this unofficial summary of the APPG on ME meeting to advance his personal opinion on what he considers to have been unacceptable behaviour by a member of the public.

It has not gone unnoticed or unremarked upon that at the previous meeting of the APPG, in October, the Chair of the Sussex and Kent ME and CFS Society, had addressed another member of the public in a manner which has been reported by several of those in attendance at that meeting as having been grossly inappropriate.

When Dr Shepherd had written up his summary of the October meeting, that section of the procedings was reported only as “…a very lively discussion on the current state of NHS services for people with ME/CFS.”

I do not consider that Dr Shepherd should be using summaries published in the name of the ME Association to further his personal views and opinions on matters that are the purview of the Chair, nor should he presume to speak on behalf of the “vast majority of people with ME/CFS who were present on Wednesday, or were being represented”.

As joint secretariat, Action for M.E. and the ME Association undertake the circulation of minutes and agendas for these meetings but they are not members of the APPG on ME 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.


ME Association: Summary of meeting of APPG on ME 2 December 2009

Friday, 04 December 2009 11:09

This is a fairly detailed summary of the meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group Group (APPG) on ME held in Committee Room 11 at the House of Commons on Wednesday 2 December, 2009.

The meeting lasted from approximately 3.15pm till 4.45pm.

Please note that this is a personal summary and not the official APPG Minutes. These will appear later.



Dr Desmond Turner MP – Chair
Countess of Mar – Secretary
Andrew Stunell MP – Vice Chair

Koyes Ahmed – Office of Dr Turner MP

Rt Hon Mike O’Brien – Minister of State for Health Services at DoH
Accompanied by three DoH officials


Tristana Rodriguez (AfME)
Sir Peter Spencer (AfME)
Dr Charles Shepherd (MEA)

ME/CFS charities and organisations:

Jill Cooper – Warwickshire Network for ME
Paul Davis – RiME
Doris Jones – 25% Group
Bill and Janice Kent – ReMEmber
John Sayer – ME Support Norfolk
Janet Taylor – Independent Kirklees ME Support Group
Mary Jane Willows – AYME


Several people with ME/CFS, and carers, attending in a personal capacity
Dr William Weir – infectious disease specialist
Television production company that is making a documentary about ME/CFS

NB: This is not a complete list of everyone who attended because I did not have the opportunity to check on the attendance book at the end of the meeting. So apologies to anyone who has not been included. If anyone does want their name added please let me know.


The main purpose of this meeting was to discuss the APPG Report into NHS Service Provision for people with ME/CFS.

The Rt Hon Mike O’Brien, Minister of State for Health Services at the Department of Health, arrived shortly before the start. He was there for 45 minutes to listen to the key findings, give a short presentation, and then answer questions before leaving promptly (as ministers do!) at 4pm. The Minister had received a copy of the interim report prior to the meeting – so he was already aware of the contents.

Unfortunately, the meeting got off to an extremely regrettable start – all due to a very small section of the audience making repeated and sometimes very aggressive interruptions about various administrative matters. As a result of this gross discourtesy to the Minister, the time available for the ministerial response was being steadily eroded. Despite several polite requests from the Chairman, the interruptions continued. As a result, the Countess of Mar terminated her involvement with the meeting. The Chairman then stated that he would either terminate the meeting or arrange for those involved to be removed from the committee room by the House of Commons police if their interruptions continued. Shortly after, those involved calmed down and we managed to start dealing with the real business of the APPG report.

On a personal note I am very much in favour of public attendance/contribution at these meetings. However, it needs to be said that if people with ME/CFS want to alienate parliamentary opinion about this illness, and not even have an APPG to put forward their case to ministers etc, then behaving in an aggressive and unpleasant manner is a very good method for achieving this aim. We already have a situation whereby some MPs are unwilling or reluctant to attend APPG meetings – all because of the obsessive and often unpleasant interruptions about administrative matters. And it could well be that after the Election, when the APPG will have to be reformed, it will be very difficult to find enough parliamentarians who are willing to take on an active APPG role. We just cannot afford to risk losing the support of distinguished parliamentarians like the Countess of Mar. It also needs to be said that the vast majority of people with ME/CFS who were present on Wednesday, or were being represented, had come to hear about the report, listen to the Minister, and then ask difficult questions about NHS services – they did not want to take up valuable time listening to complaints about the minutes and APPG administration. This could (and should) have waited till after the Minister had left.


NB: A copy of the interim report, along with the APPG press release, can be accessed by clicking here.

Des Turner started by explaining that the APPG had originally intended to publish the final report at this meeting. However, it was felt that an interim report was more appropriate at this stage. This was mainly due to the practical difficulties faced by a group with very limited resources – both staff and financial – who were bringing together and summarising the large amount of evidence that had been received.

Des Turner apologised for the fact that people had not had adequate time to read the interim report. He explained that the APPG, which has had only limited administrative support, had been very pushed for time when it came to analysing the evidence and arriving at recommendations, with the final version only being printed at the end of last week.

Des Turner carefully went through the 11 key recommendations contained in the interim report and briefly explained why they had been made in relation to the evidence sent into the Inquiry..

Mike O’Brien then made a ten minute statement relating to the recommendations contained in the interim report. Key points to emerge from the ministerial statement include:

• The 2002 Chief Medical Officer’s report had been a major turning point for people with ME/CFS – but the system (ie the NHS and DoH) had not responded adequately and put into place the various clinical, administrative and funding pathways that had been recommended by the CMO report.

• The APPG report was another milestone.

• The recommendations set out in the APPG interim report were sound and blatantly obvious.

• There was a real problem with ME/CFS when it came to ensuring that care pathways meet individual needs – which obviously vary considerably in relation to symptoms, severity etc in ME/CFS.

• The system responds to simple straightforward needs – not to complex conditions like ME/CFS.

• There were big differences in opinion amongst patients and clinicians when it came to management of ME/CFS, especially in relation to CBT and GET. This made life difficult for service providers.

• The problem is at a local level because ministers no longer rule from Whitehall and tell primary care trusts (PCTs) how to spend their money.

• The CMO report should have triggered PCTs to take action but some have not responded.

• Some PCTs are providing a good service; some a mediocre service. Others are not responding to the needs of people with ME/CFS at all – partly as a result of uncertainty and/or scepticism about the illness by their medical advisers. This type of inaction was not acceptable.

• ME support groups need to work together and pursue the case for new or better services at a local level.

• The need for accurate information on numbers was acknowledged (Recommendation 1). The challenge was how best to obtain this complex epidemiological information.

• There was a case for creating a National Service Framework for ME/CFS (Recommendation 2)but more hard evidence about the illness was needed.

• Acknowledgement of the need for more biomedical research (Recommendation 9) – he will write to the Medical Research Council (MRC) and ask for more work to be done.

• Acknowledgement of the problems faced in relation to DWP benefits and recommendation 10 in the report. The DWP did not deal very well with ME/CFS.

Before leaving at just after 4pm the Minister took a handful of questions from the floor. Among the topics covered in this question and answer session:

• From Janet Taylor: How the local ME/CFS Group in Kirklees, Yorkshire had used the existing evidence to persuade their service provider that ME/CFS should be regarded as a neurological illness

• From Charles Shepherd – What could people do if a PCT refused to provide a service? CS pointed out that there would be a major scandal if a PCT decided that it would not provide a service for people with cancer and the DoH would not allow this to happen. The Minister again refused to agree that the DoH should be more proactive in putting pressure on PCTs that refuse to set up a service.

• From Janice Kent – The Lightning Process. Janice Kent referred to the situation in Sussex. The Minister was obviously well informed about the Lightning Process and the controversy that surrounds it. It appeared that he was sympathetic to research into the use of the Lightning Process.

• From Peter Spencer – the Medical Research Council Peter Spencer pointed out that lack of services are linked to lack of research. The Minister acknowledged this was a valid point and he would therefore write to the MRC to highlight the need for more biomedical research.

Overall, Mike O’Brien listened carefully to what was being said and gave the impression that he understood (and had sympathy with) the anger about research, services and benefits. However, many of his answers were political rather than entering the territory of real practical solutions. think most people were just not convinced by the way in which the blame for lack of services is constantly passed to the PCTs with the explanation that the DoH cannot tell them what to do or how to spend government health money.



The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on ME has published an interim report on its Inquiry into NHS Services in England for people with ME/CFS.

The Inquiry has been taking placing during the course of this year.

The Inquiry was initiated as a result of widespread concerns about the way in which this illness is diagnosed and managed in both primary and secondary care.

The Inquiry took written and oral evidence from patients, carers, charities, clinicians and service providers.


We very much welcome the key recommendations contained in the interim report.

They reflect almost all of the key issues that people with ME/CFS feel very strongly about.

In particular, they are very concerned about the postcode lottery which means that some people have no NHS referral service at all whereas others are referred to services which place far too much emphasis on behavioural managements such as CBT and GET. These are approaches that some people with ME/CFS find ineffective or, in the case of GET, make their symptoms worse. We therefore hope that NICE will seriously address the recommendation in the report to thoroughly review their guideline advice about CBT and GET.

The MEA believes that the current lack of services for children, adolescents and the severely affected is a national scandal. As recommended in the interim report, this deficit must now be addressed by the PCTs – many of whose Chief Executives did not even bother to respond to the request for information from the APPG.

Finally, we agree that there needs to be sound research carried out into the underlying physical cause and epidemiology of ME/CFS. The epidemiological research could involve the research networks that have been set up within primary care. Epidemiology should also build on the primary care disease register that has been set up and developed as one of the strands of epidemiological research carried out through the ME Observatory. NB: The disease register now contains details on around 500 cases, including the severely affected cohort which has been transferred from the CHROME database.


• The Department of Health must undertake research to accurately assess the number of people with ME/CFS.

• Recommendations from the 2002 Chief Medical Officer’s report regarding service provision must be addressed.

• All PCTs should ensure that they provide a full range of diagnostic and physician-led management services for people with ME/CFS.

• PCTs must ensure that there are adequate services for children and adolescents.

• The needs of the severely affected should be given high priority.

• PCTs should have meaningful consultation with patients and local groups about services and service development.

• A National Service Framework for ME/CFS should be created.

• The Royal Colleges must ensure that medical students receive training in both diagnosis and management.

• Professional organisations responsible for other health professionals must also ensure proper training and continuing professional development .

• The Department of Work and Pensions should review its guidance in relation to benefit assessments.

• NICE should review its guideline on ME/CFS – especially the sections on CBT and GET.

• The APPG welcomes the Medical Research Council initiative which places emphasis on the need for biomedical research into the underlying cause of ME/CFS.



A copy of the current draft is available in the paperwork for the meeting. This can be found in the MEA website news section.

Further comments can still be submitted to the APPG. This matter will be considered again at the next APPG meeting in 2010.


Charles Shepherd presented a brief summary on current research activity relating to XMRV.

Notes from this presentation:

Everyone is by now familiar with the XMRV research findings from America.

This is a brief update on what is happening regarding follow up studies.

Clearly, there is an urgent need to see if other research groups, in other countries, using other laboratories, can replicate the American findings.

Patient selection is very important. Studies involved stored blood samples are going to have difficulty in finding samples from people who meet both Fukuda and Canadian diagnostic criteria – as were used in the American study. But this should be less of a problem when using new clinical cases.

If the results are consistently replicated, we can then move on to looking at the pathogenicity of the virus (ie is it a disease causing virus) and even antiviral treatment.

XMRV was discussed in some detail at the Medical Research Council Expert Group Workshop on November 19/20 where there were four UK researchers present who are actively involved in XMRV research:

• Dr Jonathan Stoye – National Institute for Medical Research
• Dr Kate Bishop – NIMR
• Dr Jonathan Kerr – St George’s Hospital
• Dr Suzanne Hagan – Glasgow Caledonian University

There are several other UK virologists involved with XMRV research as well – including Prof Greg Towers at University College. London, whom CS recently met for an afternoon discussion.

So replication studies and other XMRV research is taking place, or is about to take place, here in the UK.

MERUK plus IRISH ME TRUST has just funded an XMRV replication study in Sweden.

The MEA Ramsay Research Fund has money available for UK studies – but money does not appear to be an immediate problem in the UK.

It looks as though there may even be some early results from replication studies before the end of the year.

On the subject of blood donation, the MEA has been in correspondence with the Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson – who has repeated the guidance that people with ME/CFS should not donate blood until they have fully recovered. Various expert groups are considering the implication of XMRV being present in the healthy population in relation to blood donation – in view of the US prevalence figure of around 4%.

Version 4 of the MEA position statement on XMRV, which includes the exchange of correspondence on blood donation with the CMO, can be found on the MEA website.


There was a short discussion on the pros and cons of using meeting rooms in either the House of Commons or Portcullis House for future APPG meetings. Des Turner pointed out that one of the problems with Portcullis House is that the large rooms are very heavily booked and the small rooms are too small.


Des Turner referred to the continuing difficulties people were having with the new ESA and the need for people to notify the charities when serious problems were arising. A short discussion followed, which included reference to the various measures – appropriate and inappropriate – that are being used to try and help people back into work and the difficulty in finding suitable welfare rights advisers.


Peter Spencer referred to a briefing paper that had been prepared by himself and the Countess of Mar. This can be accessed in the APPG paperwork on the MEA website. It was pointed out that the Countess of Mar had put a lot of work during House of Lords business into trying make changes to this legislation on behalf of people with ME/CFS.


With the close of the meeting imminent there was only time for short discussions on concerns relating to the change of name of the CNRCC to the British Association for CFS/ME, and how this organisation operates within the NHS (raised by Jill Cooper) and some further criticisms of the Lightning Process.


It was agreed to try and hold one further meeting, possibly in February 2010, before the General Election takes place – presumably in May 2010.

After the Election, there will need to be a meeting to reform the APPG. At present, it looks as though this could be taking place in late May or June, which would probably mean no other meetings before the 2010 summer recess.

Prepared by Dr Charles Shepherd
Hon Medical Adviser and Trustee

The ME Association

Register of All-Party Groups and Guide to the Rules on All-Party Groups


The Register of All-Party Groups [As at 20 October 2009] is here:

There are also links at the top of the Register for:

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
Complaints about All-Party Groups

The APPG on ME’s current office holders and twenty qualifying members (made up of cross party MPs and members of the House of Lords) can be viewed here:


All-Party Parliamentary Group on Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME)

Note that the Group details have not been updated since the AGM in July 2009.

The Office of Secretary to the APPG on ME became vacant following the standing down of Dr Ian Gibson from his seat for Norwich North, on 8 June 2009.

The Countess of Mar was elected to the Office of Secretary at the group’s AGM, on 8 July 2009.

Note also that the Chair, Dr Des Turner, MP, announced at the AGM that it was not his intention to stand at the next general election and that therefore a new Chair would need to be found at that point.

Guide to the Rules on All-Party Groups:

Page 17

General elections

If your group is NOT on the Approved List: this section applies to your group.

5. Once a general election has been publicly announced we write to groups with information about what action they need to take after the election. In essence, unless the group reregisters within two calendar months from the date when parliament first meets after a general election, it is removed from the Groups’ Register, and from the Approved List (if it is on the latter).8 The purpose of this is to allow groups some continuity from parliament to parliament and to give them time to appoint new officers, enrol new members etc.

6. In order to re-register after a general election a group has to hold an inaugural election of officers (which counts as the group’s first AGM of the new parliament) then complete and return the ‘Application Forms for Cross-Party Groups’, within the 2 month period.

[8] The only exceptions are registered groups funded by Her Majesty’s Government (currently only the British- American Parliamentary Group); such group are not required to re-register.


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

Clarification regarding membership of the APPG on 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 on ME.

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

In the case of Associate Parliamentary groups, applications for membership may be accepted 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 on 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 on ME, and only Members of the House of Commons or Lords have voting rights at its meetings.

So the only members of the APPG on 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.”

The APPG on ME group’s current office holders and the twenty qualifying members (made up of cross party MPs and members of the House of Lords) can be viewed at the link, below.

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).”

As joint secretariat, Action for M.E. and the ME Association undertake the 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 are open 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 individual members of the ME community and their carers, who can and do regularly attend and contribute to these meetings.

ME Research UK : a research organisation and a 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.

A number of ME sufferers and carers of ME sufferers attend APPG on ME meetings and their names are listed as attendees in the minutes of meetings and their contributions to these meetings are minuted.

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

Action for M.E: Initial responses to the APPG interim report


Action for M.E. publishes its initial responses to the Interim Report of the APPG on ME.


Initial responses to the APPG interim report

03 December 2009

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on M.E.’s interim report on its Inquiry into NHS services for people with M.E./CFS, was launched yesterday in the presence of the Rt Hon Mike O’Brien MP, Minister of State for Health Services.

The Minister had been shown a courtesy copy of the report in advance of the APPG meeting.

He broadly supported the main thrust of the recommendations, although he questioned some points of detail. He was at pains to point out that budgets and responsibilities delegated to Primary Care Trusts meant that lobbying at the local level for better treatment of patients was usually more effective than looking towards ministerial intervention.

Nevertheless he acknowledged publicly that the implementation of the 2002 CMO report has not been developed sufficiently and that the system in the NHS was not good at dealing with complex illness such as M.E.

He later admitted, as a former Minister in the Department for Work and Pensions, that this Department also did not deal well with this illness.

The Minister identified three priorities:

1. To improve the quality and levels of service across all areas of the country and eliminate the variations in how patients are being treated.

2. To get agreement across the medical profession on a clear view about the clinical pathways for people with M.E.

3. To increase scientific research and our knowledge of the statistics of the needs of those with M.E.

Sir Peter Spencer, CEO, Action for M.E., invited Mr O’Brien to promote research as a key priority, because without a proper understanding of the biology we would not achieve the necessary agreement amongst doctors.

The Minister has agreed to write to the Medical Research Council, highlighting the need for research and to the Department of Health about the postcode lottery which exists for people with M.E.

A full transcript of the meeting will be posted on this website in due course.

Commenting today on the APPG’s interim report, Sir Peter said:

“It is of course disappointing that the full report with the supporting evidence has not yet been published owing to the limited resources available to the Inquiry group.

“However we recognise that it is nevertheless appropriate for the group to promulgate these recommendations early. This creates the opportunity to make the right impact with Health Ministers and with all major political parties at Westminster in order to establish cross party commitment to a longer term agenda that can be followed through when the next Parliament is formed after the election.

“The eleven recommendations in this interim report are welcome.

“There may not be anything that is particularly new here but together these recommendations form a powerful re-statement of the compelling need for improvement and for consistency throughout England in providing high quality healthcare to all people with M.E.

“Action for M.E. supports the emphasis on meeting the particular needs of children and the severely affected.

“We welcome the focus on training in M.E. for medical students, GPs and other healthcare professionals.

“And we strongly agree with the importance attached to biomedical research.”

Commenting on two recommendations in particular, Sir Peter added:

(Recommendation 1): “Establishing accurate estimates of people with M.E. is a major challenge. The pilot disease register which has been developed within the M.E. Observatory with money from the Big Lottery Fund could be expanded to play an significant role in this aspect of the needs assessment within each catchment area of the NHS.”

(Recommendation 4): “In remedying the lack of consistency in treatment options offered in different PCTs, the D of H should address variations in both quantity and quality; it should also implement the Government’s commitment to patient choice with treatments tailored to each patient’s specific needs and preferences.”

Inquiry into NHS Service Provision for ME/CFS 

Click link for PDF:  Official PDF of APPG Interim Report v1

APPG on ME meeting: Wednesday 2 December 09

Inquiry into NHS Service Provision for ME/CFS 

(Last night’s scanned PDF has now been replaced by the official PDF from the secretariat)

Click link for PDF:  Official PDF of APPG Interim Report v1

Update @ 7.00pm

I hope to have a copy of the “Interim Report” on this site in some format, tomorrow or later today.

Update @ 3.15pm

I am advised direct from the meeting that an interim report has been handed out because the Final Report is not ready  – why am I not surprised?



If you are planning to attend today’s meeting in House of Commons Committee Room 14 between 3.15-4.45pm please allow time for passing through security and locating the meeting room.

A bunch of friendly people will be meeting up beforehand for coffee and a chat from

2pm, Jubilee Cafe, just off Westminster Hall


I am anticipating live updates from the meeting. 

Information on the launch and publication arrangements for the APPG on ME’s report resulting out of its unofficial inquiry into NHS service provision for people with ME is expected to be announced this afternoon.  I will post information at the top of this posting and a copy of the report and any press notices as soon as these materialise.

Yesterday, the APPG on ME issued four documents:

Minutes of October 09 APPG on ME meeting

Verbatim transcript of October 09 meeting

APPG on ME Legacy Paper

APPG update on Welfare Reform Bill


Jump to this post to download these all four documents in Word format:


For RiME’s “MPs Referendum on ME Research” go here:

For the APPG on ME’s Legacy Paper go here:

For those interested in scrutinising or commenting on Action for M.E. and AYME’s draft “Election Manifesto for M.E.” go here:

Election manifesto for M.E.
09 January 2010

Election manifesto for M.E.

As the General Election approaches, Action for M.E. and the Association of Young People with M.E. (AYME) – in conjunction with The Princess Royal Trust for Carers – have produced a draft manifesto to draw the attention of the political parties to the issues which affect people with M.E.

This has been based on ideas submitted through an initial online consultation with people with M.E. but we now seek views on the draft manifesto as a whole. If you think we’ve got it wrong or you have other ideas, please let us know your views by completing our short survey before 8 January.

Action for M.E. and AYME will invite parliamentarians of all key parties to sign up to the policies identified in the final manifesto and will proactively approach them to request their support.

APPG on ME: Minutes, Transcript, Legacy Paper, Updates to Welfare Reform Bill


If you are planning to attend the meeting on Wednesday 2 December a bunch of friendly people will be meeting up before the meeting for coffee and a chat.

2pm, Jubilee Cafe, just off Westminster Hall

A number of APPG on ME documents have been circulated, today.


Minutes of the APPG on ME annual general meeting, held on 21 October 2009:

Word doc:   APPROVED MINUTES APPG on ME 21 10 2009(2)


Verbatim transcript:

Word doc:  APPROVED Transcript APPG 21 October 2009


APPG on ME Legacy Paper: 

(NB: the paper uploaded was an incorrect version supplied by the APPG on ME secretariat; it has been replaced with the correct paper below.)

Word doc: DRAFT APPG legacy paper V5 27 11 2009 (2)


Updates to Welfare Reform Bill:

Word doc: All Party Parliamentary Group on ME Update on Welfare Reform Bill 23 11 2009

(The Welfare Reform Bill will be discussed at the next APPG, tomorrow, Committee Room 14, House of Commons, 3.15 – 4.45pm.)


Please be advised that the next meeting of the APPG for M.E. will now be held in House of Commons committee room 14, as opposed to room 15.

Agenda for the next APPG for M.E., sent on behalf of Des Turner MP, chair of the APPG.


Meeting to be held 3.15-4.45pm, Wednesday 2 December 2009,

Committee Room 15, House of Commons

1. Welcome by the Chairman

2. APPG Report on the Inquiry into NHS Services

3. Speaker: Mike O’Brien MP, Minister of State for Health Services

4. Minutes of the last meeting

5. Matters arising

– APPG legacy paper (in preparation for the General Election)

– New research: murine leukaemia virus-related virus (XMRV)

– Accessibility of venues for future meetings

6. Welfare update

– Employment and Support Allowance

– Welfare Reform Bill

7. Any other business

8. Date of next meeting


UK Parliament All Party Group on ME meeting on Wednesday the 2nd of December

(Previously published on 29 November on Co-Cure mailing list)

The ME community in England are approaching what could turn out to be a critical All Party Group APPG meeting and possibly the last or the penultimate meeting of the APPG before the General Election. When the UK Parliament is dissolved for the General Election all APPGs are dissolved and must be re created in the new Parliament if they are going to continue to exist. A number of the parliamentarians who are central to the APPG including its Chair Dr. Des Turner will not be standing again or are unlikely to be re-elected.

The APPG is concluding its inquiry in NHS services for people with ME and this is one of the main foci of the meeting to be held on Wednesday the 2nd of December. The other main focus of the meeting will be  that the Health Minister Mr. Mike O’ Brien will be the guest speaker and he has been invited to discuss the findings of the inquiry.

The object of the inquiry is to try to get the UK Parliament’s Health Select Committee to take up the inquiry’s recommendations and conduct a further inquiry along similar lines. Therefore the  implications of the APPG inquiry may have far reaching consequences because the Health Select Committee is far more powerful than the APPG and if the APPG is successful in getting their inquiry on the Select Committee’s work programme the APPG’s inquiry initiative will live on after the General Election.

The subject of the inquiry has been the subject of significant discussion at APPG meetings as the way in which the inquiry has been conducted has been controversial. The situation about the minutes / transcript of the previous APPG meeting of the 21st of October is unsatisfactory. I have made enquires of Action for ME who provide the Secretariat for the APPG about these documents and it would appear that AfME have not yet received the verbatim transcript from the Hansard stenographic service from which AfME’s Heather Walker writes up the minutes and the condensed transcript. I think the verbatim transcript may very well be on a 60 day service and this is why it  is not ready.

The latest minutes that are available on the website that has been set up for the APPG are those of the 1st of April as can be seen at :-

The minutes and transcript of the 8th of July meeting have not been placed on this website and can only be found I think on AfME’s and the ME Association’s websites. Therefore it is clear from this and from the lack of more modern material on the APPG’s Inquiry that this website is not being kept up to date.

The APPG Inquiry Panel held two oral Evidence Sessions on the 9th and the 16th of July and there are no official minutes, write ups or transcripts of these two meetings despite the fact that the APPG Chair Dr. Des Turner made a public commitment to publish the transcripts of the Oral Evidence Sessions at the start of the first Oral Evidence Session. There may have been technical difficulties involved which might have prevented a written transcript being made from the audio recordings of these meetings, but if this were the case, there has been no statement from the APPG Secretariat or Chair that they have been unable to follow through on the Chair’s public commitment to publish these transcripts.

At the last APPG meeting on the 21st of October Dr. Turner decided that despite representations made  to him by Paul Davis of RiME and myself that the APPG Inquiry report ought to be made available ahead of the 2nd of December meeting to enable effective consultation on the report through a fully informed discussion at the meeting, he would not allow the report to be released to the public before the meeting. He considered that the report would loose impact if it came out in what he described in drips and drabs, but he conceded that a summary of the report, or a summary of the report’s recommendations might be made available on Tuesday evening, and that he would make copies of the full report available to the MEA and AfME on a confidential basis.

It was not clear what procedures/mechanisms would be used to disseminate the summary of the report on Tuesday the 1st of December or who would be involved in operating them. This therefore places a question mark over whether or not any form of summary of the inquiry’s report will indeed be made available prior to the APPG meeting on Wednesday the 2nd of December, and also if copies of the full report will be made available at the APPG meeting itself.

This places ME sufferers and carers who attend as members of the public at APPG meetings in a very difficult position as the matter of the inquiry report is listed on the APPG meeting agenda and we either will only have a summary of the report, or perhaps not even that with which to prepare for the meeting where it is expected that the report will be endorsed. Even if full copies of the report are available at the meeting I do not consider that it would be fair or reasonable to expect participants to have to read the report whilst those in the know who already have read their copies of the report discuss the report’s contents with a view to endorsing the report and its recommendations.

I therefore consider that the inquiry panel made up of the parliamentarians drawn from the core membership of the APPG has not made adequate information available for there to be proper public scrutiny of their work, and neither will there be an opportunity for proper or adequate consultation on the findings and recommendations of the APPG on ME’s inquiry into NHS services for people with ME.

I consider that the ME community ought to think through what the implications of simply going along with the endorsement of the inquiry report might be. The inquiry panel have trailed the fact that they have found a very mixed picture in terms of some areas of the country being served by CFS clinics that principally offer only limited diagnostics and psychologically based treatments which comprise CBT and GET. There is approximately 60% coverage of current service provision for adult services and only 15% national coverage for children.

Where a Primary Care trust, PCT does not have a CFS clinic in its catchment area a PCT can contract into a service provided through another PCT, but not all PCTs do this and what are the service issues involved in patients being passed over into to another health service area in order to attend a CFS

What view will the inquiry take about the issues around CBT and GET, and will they recommend that these psychological treatments be made available to all ME sufferers in order to overcome the CFS clinic post code lottery, or will they take a more sophisticated approach?

What view will the inquiry report take towards the applicability of CBT and GET in general and at the CFS clinics in particular?

Where there are CFS clinics or adequate access to them further a field there are specialist services for ME patients, but are these services meeting need and what advantage do they offer, if any, over generalist services available at the local hospital or through the patient’s primary care or GP service?

One specific area of controversy that may come up within the inquiry report might be the issue of the Lightning Process, LP, which the inquiry panel took a considerable interest in despite the fact that it does not really fall within the terms of reference of the inquiry as LP is not a treatment offered by the NHS. At the APPG meeting of the 21st of October Dr. Turner was asked by Paul Davis and I to explain the inquiry’s interest in LP and he responded that LP was a potential treatment for ME on the NHS and that he as Chair of the inquiry panel was being flexible about the inclusion of LP within the bounds of the inquiry and also in the way in which the inquiry had invited a witness to the Second Oral Evidence Session to give evidence on LP which was very positive. Some of the other patient witnesses at that session did point out that there was another less positive side to LP, but the panel did not invite another witness to put the opposing view. The panel spent a considerable amount of time on LP with the effect that other areas of inquiry such as children’s services were allocated less time even though they quite clearly fell within the main remit of the inquiry’s terms of reference.

This rather begs the question of whether or not the inquiry panel simply meandered a bit off topic and off task by dwelling so long and delving comparatively deeply into LP, or does the inquiry panel intend to take a specific view about LP, and if so, will they be making any recommendations about LP in their report about LP being a potentially effective treatment that might be offered on the NHS?

Therefore I would suggest that it would be a good idea for the ME community and most particularly the PWME regular attendees at APPG meetings to discuss there matters before the meeting, and even to hold a brief pre-meeting prior to the APPG itself in order to arrive at some kind of general consensus about how the above and other issues might best be handled at the APPG meeting itself.

Ciaran Farrell

29 November 2009