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

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

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p5foE-2UL

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 (tristana.rodriguez@afme.org.uk) 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: http://www.appgme.org.uk/minutes/mintues.html

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:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmallparty/register/memi01.htm

INTRODUCTION

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:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmallparty/register/memi422.htm

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:

http://www.parliament.uk/documents/upload/PCFSGroupsRules.pdf

or opened here on ME agenda

APPG Groups Rules

RiME: Notice and Letters 11/5/10

Campaigning for Research into ME (RiME):  Notice and Letters 11/5/10

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p5foE-2Sw

www.rime.me.uk

From Paul Davies

11 May 2010

Campaigning for Research into ME (RiME)

Hi,

Thanks to those who have sent good wishes re. my bout of shingles. Slow progress…

Trying to catch up on correspondence… Because of increased and increasing support for RiME it gets increasingly difficult to reply to everthing. If you have sent a letter/email recently which you feel warrants a reply, please try again.

Good Wishes, Paul rimexx@tiscali.co.uk  www.rime.me.uk

Selected Letters Oct. 2009 – April 2010

Views expressed in the letters do not necessarily reflect those of RiME.

Ref: 799 Grampian

Thank you for sending me the latest newsletter. As always, the newsletter is realistic with regard to all aspects of the ME situation. When will this change in the UK?

The leading ME charities seem to go round in never ending circles achieving very little for neurological ME patients. It is as though they are reluctant to admit that they are representing both G93.3 patients and F.48 patients at the same time. Is this because they don’t want to choose between the two groups? Is this why they still back the ludicrous CFS clinics dolling out CBT/GET? Who profits from this approach?

Worryingly these are the groups who supposedly “represent” neurological ME patients in the UK. They should truthfully state which group of patients they represent. Or perhaps it is time for a new ME Group which truly represents neurological ME patients. Perhaps an alliance between some of the already existing smaller pro-neurological ME groups? I like the idea of one “UK ME Society” representing G93.3 patients only. Sounds quite a good name too because it incorporates all sufferers the length and breadth of the UK.*

It is incredible that following the latest XMRV research results the MEA is not recommending that research scientists should adhere to the stricter Canadian Clinical Guidelines for research patient selection. This says it all. Why does the MEA wish to leave the research door wide open to include F48.8 patients?** Do they really want both G93.3 and F48.8 patients to continue to be lumped together, thus watering down research results? Don’t they want to find a diagnostic test, followed by appropriate treatment? Or do they want ME patients to remain in the Chronic Fatigue/F48.8 mire for all time? If this is the case then a new UK ME Group is sorely needed…

Ref: 804 London

Thank you for the last Newsletter. Excellent. Yes, how we do get rid of AfME + MEA? Perhaps it’s something that needs to be discussed on the internet. Would you consider putting this letter on message boards? The point is: If the vast majority don’t feel the above are acting in their interests (indeed, many feel they are acting against them in that they are not really about G93.3 ME) then let’s robustly discuss that knotty problem ‘how do we get rid of them’?

1. It’s excellent to see their respective memberships nose-diving but the trouble is, will they not be propped up by Government funding? Could we petition the Health Department asking that Section 64 funding be withdrawn?

2. I find it difficult to think of anyone now who genuinely supports them. I know a few who still get their awful rags because ‘they want to know what’s going on’. Is there a way that more people can access their information but without subscribing ie share-swaps or info. being circulated via ‘net.

3. Challenge those groups who still support them – it never ceases to annoy me when I see a Local Newsletter which says at back ‘useful addresses – AfME, MEA… ‘ Too often the wrong people get to run local groups – there seems to be so many troglodytes and blissninnies who feebly accept the status quo; sadly, too few challenge what they do re. the larger picture.

4. The obvious way to get rid of the above is for us to start a new national ME Society*. But without the backing of a wealthy philanthropist, it won’t be easy… If the philanthropist doesn’t materialise, could one have a process where ME patients pledged money as they did re. the Judicial Review. Tricky. Would people be prepared to do it without knowing exactly what the end product would be?

Food for thought…

Ref: 806 Lincs

I wish I had the energy to write a long post about my NHS experience however to summarize:

I had similar experiences as people here.
Each session of the NHS CFS group was 2 hours long, this was at least 1hr too long. It made it a 3-4hr event.
They made us sit on school class room style chair, agony.
If/when you left they blamed you for not cooperating so it didn’t go into any statistics I went to 6 out of 8 sessions. When I left half had gone already. The ones that stayed seemed to have other conditions.
It sent me into a bad relapse.
It was even suggested I leave my wife and children to avoid stress.
It was horrendous, I didn’t get to see a consultant or even a doctor.
I had my initial assessment with a nurse and the sessions were run by an OT.
No tests or specialist help just relaxation and exercises to stop my negative thinking.

Bad bad bad…

Ref: 810 Glamorgan

APPG Legacy Document… This is a deeply depressing document.

Can we get anywhere while the Group pretends its remit is ME, but acts as if it’s CFS?

Perhaps the answer is to split it into two separate Groups. Those who favour the psychiatric clinics to call themselves APPG on CFS. Those who commit themselves only to ICD-10 G93.3 ME to use the existing name, the Canadian Consensus Criteria &/or the Nightingale definition of ME, and pursue biomedical research and treatments specifically for ME and provision by the DWP appropriate to a disabling neuroimmune disease?

You deserve several medals for plugging away at this so faithfully…

Ref: 813 Norfolk

… Just want to register at this point my ongoing gratitude and continuing support for your efforts to make us heard!
and also to applaud those efforts of the other-equally beleaguered-ME sufferers at these meetings – please don’t let them silence any of you – I only wish I was well enough to attend myself; alas have now been housebound for months
But you need to continue to speak up because you are just about the only people there who are actually stating the facts and representing the true needs of ME patients. Without your voices we will all be gagged.

Lady Mar should step down in my opinion, since she seems completely unable to control her temper it follows that she is hardly a suitable person to act as Chair…

Ref: 816 Yorks

… I must congratulate you. When you first notified me about the Inquiry, the common question was “will it try to concoct a favourable report and publish it in the run up to the next election?”

I think your actions have helped ensure that did not happen. It sounds quite awful what happened to you at the last meeting. The current APPG does not appear to be fit for purpose. Let’s hope after the election, the situation will improve.

A big “THANK YOU” for your sterling efforts, which hopefully is a step towards stopping the abuse of patients, given the unsupported diagnosis of ME/CFS.

I discovered the report on 10th January; it was unacceptable the way it was presented to the APPG. It was also very discourteous that Dr Turner did not even acknowledge receipt of papers people sent in. We were not told when the hearings took place. We were not told the Interim Report had been issued….

Ref: 822 Birmingham to Parliamentary Commissioner

… I understand that you have been contacted recently by ME sufferers who attended the APPG meeting for ME held on the 2nd of December last year. I wish to add my support to their complaint.

I think it may help if I give you some background information that has given rise to unhappiness that is surfacing at meetings. Currently there is tension amongst the ME community due to the fact that they feel their illness is not being taken seriously at Westminster. Part of the blame for this stems from what sufferers see as a failure of ME charities and their supporters to adequately represent them. Because of this, some feel they have no choice but to struggle to meetings in the hopes of trying to educate politicians as to how dire their situation is. People such as I who have been ill for twenty- two years cannot make the trip to London and are extremely grateful to sufferers who do make an effort; aware that many do so at a cost to their own health. Nevertheless and regardless of their efforts, politicians still only see ME charities as being representative of all sufferers and show favourable bias towards them. Whilst recognising that meetings only have a limited time in which to conduct business it needs to be borne in mind that the APPG for ME has been in existence for just over a decade, yet not one success can be pointed at to justify its cost to the taxpayer. The equivalent of a business plan has never been put forward. Had politicians developed one it would have shown a real commitment on their part, and gone some way to show to the public what expectations they should have, and what can reasonably be achieved by a group having APPG status. As a result dissatisfaction with the APPG group has steadily grown.

At the moment it is far too easy for group politicians to portray the public as being awkward or aggressive when the group’s lack of progress is being brought to their attention, but unfortunately that is what is now happening. In my view politicians appear to feel that just showing a willingness to be involved with ME, is in itself enough for nothing other than gratitude to be shown towards them. Whilst I and many others are grateful if a politician shows an interest, there seems little point if nothing of any substance ever materialises. As you know yourself living in a democracy allows people, if unhappy, every right to say so without fear. This ought to be obvious to the politicians involved. They should also be aware that they are displaying poor judgment when they show not only an unwillingness to listen, but believe it acceptable conduct to flounce out of meetings. Their actions only feed into underlying concerns the public in general have regarding the standard of politics in the UK. Concerns that are understandable given what is being currently being said in the media.

I am also worried that – as an election is on the horizon – there may have been some manipulation of events at the last few APPG meetings, in order to try to justify the current APPG not being reformed when a new Parliament reconvenes. This would leave only ForwardME as the only ME lobby group within Westminster; a group in which it has been made quite clear to the ME community that only people acceptable to it are allowed to attend…

(Ed. copies to RiME of letters sent to Parliamentary Commissioner go into double figures).

Ref: 830 Kent

Thank you for the summary of the APPG meeting, and for standing up for ME patients. I hope it didn’t take too much of your energy, it’s appalling that they respond in the way they do. R says don’t let the xs get you down….

Thank you again for your email. Surely there will be a breakthrough in someone’s research somewhere in the world and the politicos and Wesselyites will have to eat mounds of humble pie. Won’t that be bliss!

Ref: 832 Yorks to Daily Telegraph

A letter appeared Feb. 6 entitled ‘Breaking the ME Enigma’, which says in para. 4 ‘it is time the nation started taking ME seriously’. I wish to comment on the said letter by pointing out the following:

The rank and file have been trying to get the nation to do this since 1997… Often it has been done without any support from the main groups who seem content to let things ride referring to any such attempt as counter productive, and sitting on the side lines… Some representatives from these groups have even signed the letter.

Any progress in the nation becoming aware of ME of which there are many enlightened citizens has been done by the rank and file going among them, it is a sad fact that the establishment is not as enlightened, a point which the general public have often commented on at fundraising and awareness events.

Other signatories are members of the APPG on ME, which when it was formed as a result of action taken again by the rank and file between 1997 and 1998. In eleven years the APPG has not once championed the cause of ME biomedical research, but have debated other issues and when complaints have been made at meetings have threatened to evict anyone who disagrees, as a result of this dictatorial behaviour they have been reported to the Parliamentary Commissioners for Standards….

Yes ME has needed the enigma to have been broken and resolved but this should have been done long ago, by those whom we looked to for leadership but were sadly let down…

Ref: 835 Dorset

I hope you don’t mind me emailing you but x y posted your message about the latest APPG debacle on Facebook. Firstly, thank you for all you do. I am in agreement with your comments regarding certain members of the APPG. They seem to be conducting highly irrelevant investigations into what amount to highly irrelevant NHS services. I have pointed this out to many people including CS of the MEA but there seems to be a reluctance to admit any fault….

Anyway, I understand that Des Turner is stepping down as chairperson so it could be an opportunity for some new blood in the group. My MP, Annette Brooke (Lib Dem) might be somebody to approach about this. She has shown a lot of concern towards me and my worries about the lack of research into ME. You may have seen the adjournment debate she led in parliament a few weeks ago. I was partially responsible for this although I wasn’t entirely happy with the early part of the speech (I wrote the second half!) as it was rather too complementary about our local ME clinic/support group which quite frankly are a disgrace….

Ref: 837 London

… The Internet is a powerful tool which can work to ME patients advantage, especially in terms of exposing the national ME Charities’ errant ways. Running Internet Services is not an easy job, and there can be a fine line between freedom of speech and moderation. However, if a person makes accusations which are inaccurate and unfair, then one wonders if a line has been crossed. Critical comments have been made recently about persons attending the Dec. 2 2009 APPG meeting, with words such as ‘rude’, ‘aggressive’ and ‘disruptive’ being used.

I was there that day. For the record: No ME patient acted rudely. No ME patient acted aggressively. The only rude and aggressive behaviour came from politicians. Consequently, several have complained to the Parliamentary Commissioner.

Distorted and exaggerated accounts are too readily accepted by a few Internet users, and they need to be more careful what they write.

Disruption? That is a moot point. If there was, fine with me. The way the APPG Inquiry into ME/CFS Services was set up certainly needed challenging (with only AfME and MEA being consulted re. writing of Report). Moreover, if ME patients hadn’t spoken up at the start of the meeting, I dare say they wouldn’t have been given the chance.

The whole thing stinks. Talking to friends around England, I don’t get any good reports on the clinics set up following the CMO Report; indeed, the opposite – more GET, CBT… Yet the APPG, in conjunction with AfME and MEA, has published a Report which does not accurately reflect how ME patients feel…

‘Relax, we’re winning, XMRV… ‘ I don’t subscribe to that view; it smacks of complacency, if not Micawberism. The Government in cahoots with ‘Wesselyites’ will hold out for as long as they can. Why? Money, of course. If replicated test results from ME patients show anomalies, we still have a mountain to climb.

Note the evolution of the Wesselyite argument: First, didn’t they say ME doesn’t exist? Now, are they not saying that there is a biological element but it is still largely psychosocial; treat the latter, and ME patients will improve/recover? Their studies (not about strictly defined ME) provide the Government with a cheap option which I think they will cling to for as long as possible.

So, we must challenge clinics set up following the CMO Report upon the ‘Wessely model’. Congratulations to those who had the courage to speak out on Dec. 2; they deserve our loyalty and support…

Ref: 842 Lancs

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 ME 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 ME, 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 ME 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….

Ref: 844 Kent

… I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve got shingles; really nasty. I hope it soon abates. It was a great pity that you had to miss the latest APPG meeting; I’ve been trying to get there for the past year or so, but it’s still beyond me at the moment.

Was really glad, though, to see – on ME Agenda – Chris Ellis’s excellent letter condemning the treatment you were afforded at the previous meeting, behaviour which was truly appalling and at the same time cutting to the chase on what the APPG should really be about. Will they take notice I wonder…

Not a lot of hope out there for us at the moment with the conflicting XMRV test results floating about. Have just finished reading Hillary Johnson’s Osler’s Web… fascinating and illuminating, bringing home how serendipitously ME (or CFS as it was in the States) became ‘associated’ with psychological problems, and in such a cynical way.

Have just read the APPG Governance procedures, which seem to indicate that the Chairman is always right…

Please don’t respond, you’ll have enough on your plate coping with yet another painful and debilitating symptom; just wanted to get in touch to give you my support. Will try to take some action on the Report.

Ref: 846 Surrey

To RiME,

Letter to Lady Mar… Don’t let the Blissninnies and PollyAnnas get you down.

Dear Lady Mar,

I have read the full transcript of this meeting (APPG on ME Dec. 2 2009).

Myself and others associated with ME congratulate Paul Davis RiME on the points he made at the beginning of the meeting. He was quite right to ask who was consulted regarding the writing of the Report on ME/CFS Service Provision, and to raise concerns in that respect.

These were valid and legitimate points.

I don’t know anyone, incidentally, who is attending the clinics set up following the CMO Report 2002.

Can I ask, therefore, why you asked for him to be evicted? …

Ref: 851 Leader of Manchester Group

Charles. Yes it is a funny old world. The whole scenario reminds me of the fable of the Emperor’s new clothes. A case of collective denial. I don’t know where you’re getting your feedback from maybe you could share it with us.

There is not one single children’s NHS clinic that doesn’t treat ME as a psychosocial illness. The APPG report doesn’t see this as a problem. It ‘accidentally’ omits the advice of the TYMES Trust and repeatedly quotes Esther Crawley, the staunch Wessely School specialist. If Des Turner gets his wish and CFS/ME children’s clinics are funded throughout the UK we will almost definitely see more of the same. The number of children being forced into harmful/abusive psychosocial treatments will dramatically increase. Why on earth would people with ME want to thank Des Turner for that?

The MEA’s repeated excuse of supposed ‘feedback’ to try and justify their atrocious position on the clinics is beginning to grate.

The MEA justify their backing of the clinic (which almost entirely consist of psychosocial treatments) by quoting feedback of those who most probably have psychological chronic fatigue.

*Ed: The ME Association has already registered “The ME Society” with the Charity Commission as an alternative name to its operating name.

**Ed: If the author is referring to ICD-10 Neurasthenia, the ICD-10 code is F48.0, not F48.8.

Agenda: APPG on ME meeting Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Agenda: APPG on ME meeting Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p5foE-2P4

APPG Legacy Paper 26.02.10

Agenda meeting 10 March 2010

Next APPG

The next All Party Parliamentary Group on M.E. will meet in Committee Room 18, House of Commons, between 1.30 and 3pm, Wednesday 10 March 2010.

AGENDA

1. Welcome by the Chairman

2. Minutes of the last meeting

3. Speaker: Vanessa Stanislas, CEO, Disability Alliance, Tackling Disability Poverty

4. APPG Report on the Inquiry into NHS Services

5. APPG Legacy paper (attached) to be formally approved

5. Matters arising

– Review of NICE guidelines

7. Any other business

8. Date of next meeting

Changes to the minutes of the last meeting (attached) should be e-mailed to the Secretariat (tristana.rodriguez@afme.org.uk , 0117 9301325) by 5pm 3 March please.

Please note:
It has been known for committee rooms to be taken over for other pressing parliamentary events and/or for parliamentarians to be called away at short notice. To avoid disappointment, those planning to attend are advised to check this website where we will post a cancellation notice should this be necessary

Tristana Rodriguez
Policy Officer
Action for M.E.
Direct Dial 0117 930 1325

Registered charity number: 1036419. Registered in Scotland: SCO40452

www.afme.org.uk

Extract from controversial start to December APPG on ME meeting

Extract from the controversial start to the meeting of the APPG on ME held on 2 December 2009

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p5foE-2Ex

Corrected version of Transcript available on Action for M.E.’s website: http://tinyurl.com/yhcxs3c  or open Word File here: Corrected Transcript APPG on ME 02.12.09

Open Transcript APPG on ME 02.12.09 PDF

Open Minutes APPG on ME 02.12.09 Word

Open Minutes APPG on ME 02.12.09 PDF

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

Update @ 4 February 10

Corrected version of transcript now appears below and in the Word File above.  Note that these corrections do not address the misattributions at the end of the meeting.

Edit: I have been asked to note that statements made by Nicky Zussman and recorded in the official transcript have been misattributed to Michelle Goldberg and that a request has been made to the APPG on ME Secretariat for amendments. Questions raised with the Chair, towards the end of the meeting, by John Sayer, have been misattributed to another attendee.

Because of the controversy surrounding the chairing of this meeting I am publishing an extract from the official verbatim transcript of the opening minutes.

(Transcript prepared through the offices of the parliamentary stenographer service, for the purpose of which an audio recording of the meeting was also made). I am told that a documentary production team (who were not filming) was also present, although its presence and purpose was not announced to the meeting.

It is understood that Dr Des Turner, MP, Chair of the APPG on ME, intends to stand down from his seat at the forthcoming election and and that he will be taking up a seat in the House of Lords.

Extract from official verbatim transcript: 2 December 2009

Des Turner MP (Chair): Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen and welcome to the all-party group on ME. Sir Peter Spencer has distributed a document to you, which is the interim report of the inquiry. We will discuss that in a short while but you have a chance to have a look at it before that.

I am glad to see so many people here this afternoon. The inquiry is the main topic of this meeting. Blood was sweated over this, but the piles of evidence were such that given the limited time and resources available to the group, we were not able to bring together a report with which we were totally satisfied—we nearly managed it, but not quite. Therefore, we decided to produce an interim report that contains the findings. Those findings are not going to change. The conclusions and recommendations of the report stand as they are in the interim report. The rest of the report has been reduced to a very brief introduction. We hope to produce the full report in due course, but it will contain the same recommendations and conclusions. They are as clear as daylight as far as the group is concerned, and are taken from the evidence. We thought it prudent to get something out as soon as possible, so that we could produce some effect with the recommendations. That is why the document is somewhat truncated. However, as I have said, the recommendations stand.

Paul Davies: A report has been handed out by Sir Peter Spencer. What was the consultation on that interim report?

Chair: This is the report. Let me make it clear that an all-party group is a group of parliamentarians. That group of parliamentarians has produced this report.

Paul Davies: But did you consult with Action for ME and the ME Association?

Chair: Yes, we did.

Paul Davies: Why did you consult only with those organisations?

Chair: Because they are the only groups who gave us any assistance. They are the only people who assist with the business of running this group. If you would offer to help with the secretariat you might get consulted, but you don’t.

Paul Davies: Yes, but the point is that this shows bias towards those organisations.

Chair: I am sorry. This does not show bias to anyone.

Paul Davies: It does because those organisations—

Chair: That is your opinion. This report is our assessment of the evidence. It is not biased for or against anyone.

Paul Davies: It is biased because you only consulted with Action for ME and the ME Association. Those groups support the clinics that we believe the large majority of ME patients do not want.

Sir Peter Spencer: May I make a quick point? The Minister will not have much time. Perhaps we could talk about this matter properly afterwards and have a proper discussion. Otherwise, the Minister will leave before we have had time to make use of his presence. We should get on with the main business.

Chair: I quite agree. Those comments bear no relation to the report. Can we get on with the report?

Paul Davies: They bear relation to those patients who do not want these clinics.

Chair: We will have that discussion afterwards. I know you feel that you represent millions of patients, but I do not think that you do. We will have that discussion afterwards. We are here to discuss the report.

The report is before you and the recommendations speak for themselves.

Ciaran Farrel: I was going to ask for some reading time. Perhaps we could go briefly through the report and the recommendations, so that we can understand what the Minister has to say.

Chair: You don’t know what I am about to say. To be honest, I am beginning to lose patience with you two. You would stretch the patience of any Chairman.

Countess of Mar: May I propose that these two people be evicted from the meeting so that we can carry on our business?

Chair: That would be the sensible thing to do. You two people spend most of your time trying to disrupt the work of this group.

Nicky Zussman: I don’t agree. I think that they bring important points.

Chair: I have yet to hear one.

Countess of Mar: In that case, I am going to leave. I am not prepared to waste my time listening to you when I have other things to do. I am sorry. I will not stay in a group with people who cannot behave themselves in a meeting and listen to the Chair.

[Countess of Mar leaves]

Chair: If you are not prepared to be quiet or leave, I will terminate this meeting. What will you do?

John Sayer: I am sorry Mr. Chairman. Why are you looking at me? It is the first time I’ve been here. I am a bit surprised at how things have gone so far.

Chair: So am I—surprised and exceedingly disappointed.

Nicky Zussman: We are the ill people. It is us who are being described. It is 11 years since the CMO’s working group was convened, and we are still being told what to do like very young children. I think that Paul has a point.

Chair: The Countess of Mar has put a lot of work into this. She works very hard to support ME sufferers, but she has just left in disgust. I feel very inclined to do so myself. If you wish to terminate the work of this group, continue with this utterly pointless discussion.

Nicky Zussman: We are not at school.

Chair: You are not at school, and you are on your own.

Janet Taylor: Please do not leave, Dr. Turner. I have come all the way from Yorkshire. I want to hear the Health Minister. I have important things to say.

Chair: I am sure you do. I am sorry, but we seem to have an element that is determined to be disruptive and does not want to listen to anything. Some people only want to rake over the coals of arguments that they have been making for years which lead absolutely nowhere. They are greatly to the detriment of the ME community.

Mary-Jane Willows: May I speak? On behalf of those patients who value and respect the work that you have tried to do for many years, I understand where you are coming from. I ask you to try and finish what you were saying. If you are interrupted again, I totally respect your decision to leave. I beg you to try once more and speak, without interruption.

Janice Kent: I second that.

Chair: Alright, but one more interruption, and I will call the police to remove you.

[End extract: Full verbatim transcript here: Transcript APPG on ME 02.12.09 PDF ]

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

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p5foE-2E1

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

http://tinyurl.com/yhcxs3c  

 

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

You can find them at the MEA website at: http://tinyurl.com/ybgel9e

APPG on ME website

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

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p5foE-2wI

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: http://wp.me/p5foE-2sj

—————-

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 :-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YyFp_sTNj08

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 :-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ndqP-pSrj6I

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 :-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPPClZDko8c

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

[extract]:

“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.

—————-

**Footnote

(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”?]

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

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p5foE-2sb

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

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmallparty/register/memi01.htm

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:

Register:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmallparty/register/memi01.htm

All-Party Parliamentary Group on Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME)

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmallparty/register/memi420.htm

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:

http://www.parliament.uk/documents/upload/PCFSGroupsRules.pdf

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:  http://www.appgme.org.uk/minutes/mintues.html

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.

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmallparty/register/memi417.htm

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.

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?

 

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p5foE-2rx

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:  http://wp.me/p5foE-2r9

——————

For RiME’s “MPs Referendum on ME Research” go here:  http://www.rime.me.uk/MPs_Referendum.htm

For the APPG on ME’s Legacy Paper go here:  http://wp.me/p5foE-2r9

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

http://www.afme.org.uk/news.asp?newsid=671

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.

http://www.afme.org.uk/res/img/resources/Election%20manifesto%20draft%2028.10.09%20with%20survey%20link.pdf

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.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=s6Z_2bDPZYrMM0toczWL2xew_3d_3d

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.

RiME: Summary of APPG Meeting 21.10.09

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p5foE-2rr

Permission to Repost

Campaigning for Research into ME (RiME)  www.rime.me.uk

Dec. 1 2009

To Tristana Rodriguez AfME,

Today, the day before the APPG meeting, you have released (1) the minutes of the last meeting (2) a draft of the APPG Legacy Document.

It would seem you expect ME patients to read and digest all of this, before tomorrow’s meeting?

This is totally unacceptable and the matter needs to be discussed at tomorrow’s meeting.

It leads ME patients to ask, ‘Do the people running the APPG on ME understand what the neourological illness Myalgic Encephalomyelitis is?’

Yours Sincerely,

Paul Davis RiME

cc interested ME parties

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Permission to Repost

Campaiging for Research into ME (RiME)  www.rime.me.uk

Summary of APPG Meeting 21/10/09

1.31 pm Meeting starts. Dr. Des Turner MP Chair says that the APPG will have to be reformed after the General Election in 2010. A legacy paper is being prepared – comments on the second draft of the paper must be sent to the Secretariat by November 20.

Dr. Turner says the date of next APPG meeting will be December 2nd. On the agenda will be the services inquiry report with the possible attendance of a Health Minister. He says that only AfME and the MEA will see the draft report.

Paul Davis RiME says that RiME has received over 50 copies of evidence submitted to Inquiry. Having read the large majority, with the exception of one, they are all negative. ME patients say the basis on which they were set up – CMO Report is bogus and they don’t want them. Period. Matters of structure, finance, post-code lottery are irrelevant.

Christine Harrison BRAME said she wanted to inject a note of optimism – I didn’t catch what she said after that.

Ciaran Farrell: re. consultation on Inquiry Report: the report needs to be circulated ahead of time so there can be a proper, informed discussion at next meeting.

Paul Davis said re. Oral Presentations that the Chair had allowed matters outside the Terms of Reference to be discussed.

Dr. Turner said something about being flexible.

Paul Davis specifically mentioned the Lightning Process: Did the Chair not only allow someone to talk about it but comment positively on it himself? To our knowledge LP isn’t being practiced in any of the clinics set up following the CMO Report.

Ciaran Farrell supported Paul Davis on the matter of LP and asked Dr. Turner if he is prepared to make a statement about how and why he was being flexible. Dr. Turner declined to do so.

Dr. Turner said we need to look at all treatments.

Michelle Goldberg ME patient talked about various forms of abuse; “Institutional domestic violence”.

Janice Kent Remember talked about misdiagnosis and says that other illnesses are treated better.

Dr. Shepherd MEA bemoaned lack of medical help and expertise.

Dr. Turner mentions XMRV Virus and ongoing research in America.

Paul Davis thanked the Chair for mentioning XMRV but pointed out that the British Government still isn’t funding any biomedical research.

Colin Barton Sussex Group said that some research might be carried out at Barts.

Annette Barclay raised concerns and said who would want Barts doing such research? Several put their hands up in support of Annette.

2.09pm – Yvette Cooper Secretary of State for DWP enters, accompanied by Dr. James Bolton, Deputy Chief Medical Adviser to DWP.

Ms Cooper talked about her own experience, saying she had been ill with ME for two years (1993-5) and off work for a year. She outlined the changes to the care, welfare and benefits system – especially the introduction of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) to replace Incapacity Benefit and the role of Work Capability Assessment (WCA) in deciding eligibility for ESA. She said she understood concerns re. the fluctuating nature of ME and the need for a flexible approach re. return to work. She believed the ESA and WCA took those issues into account. Re. DLA: she said that DLA for people of working age was not under review.

Dr. Turner raised the issue of problems with tribunals. Examples of unsatisfatory procedures were mentioned by several attendees. Ms Cooper said tribunals were classed as ‘independent’ and their administration came under the Ministry of Justice.

Dr. Shepherd asked Dr. Bolton if he would meet with ME charity representatives to discuss concerns in more detail. He said yes. Shepherd says in his notes that this will be followed up via Forward-ME.

2.55pm Cooper left

Jill Cooper West Midlands Group Consortium read out a further statement to do with issues about patient representation, transparency, and the education and training program of the Co-ordinating Clinical and Research Network and Collaborative (CCRNC). She said that WMMEG had received a copy of the CCRNC Constitution from Dr. Esther Crawley. The document excludes anyone who does not support the NICE Guidelines. This practice is at variance with the Health Department’s position on patient representation which is to ‘provide a free exchange of ideas, questions, comments or criticisms… ‘

Dr. Shepherd confirmed that charities who do not support the NICE guidelines are excluded from the CCRNC.
Lady Mar and Jill Cooper disagree over CCRNC.
Ciaran Farrell said there is a great deal of concern about the NICE guidelines and that it was unfair and unreasonable to exclude people from the CCRNC.

Colin Barton objects to criticism of clinics saying many are being treated at them.

Annette Barclay and Nicky Zussman disagree with him.

3.10 pm – Meeting Ends.

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

Overview

RiME got something in last week re. Legacy Document.

RiME’s submission said the performance of the APPG 1999-2009 had been disappointing, and concluded:

We deem the best criteria for adjudging the APPG 1999-2009 is to simply ask the question, ‘are ME patients better off now?’ Answer: No. Indeed, many would say they are worse off. The text above has focused upon concerns re. services and research. But are there not still problems in other areas such as welfare and child protection?

If those running the APPG were to counter by saying, we are essentially about awareness, not lobbying – then two questions come to mind (1) is awareness enough? (2) has the APPG been portraying an accurate picture eg has it painted too rosy a picture re. the clinics?

RiME recommends:

1. A fresh start with five new officers following 2010 General Election…

2. An independent Secretariat.

3. Detailed attention to matters of nomenclature and classification.

4. The focus to be on biomedical research…

Paul Davis rimexx@tiscali.co.uk     www.rime.me.uk

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

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p5foE-2r9

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.

AGENDA

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

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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 :-

http://www.appgme.org.uk

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
clinic?

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