Category: DWP

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:

BBC News: “New benefit system labelled unfit”

BBC News: “New benefit system labelled unfit”; Benefits and Work: Daily Mail and Carer Watch


The ME Association reported on 28 May:

There was a 18-minute item about the Coalition Government’s Welfare Reforms programme on the BBC2 ‘Newsnight’ programme last night (27 May 2010) – a film package with Peter Marshall reporting from Coventry and studio discussion chaired by Gavin Esler. The government spokesman who faced three benefits claimants in the studio was Steve Webb (Lib Dem), the new Minister for Pensions.

To watch this item on BBCi Player, click on the following link and then move the cursor on the time bar to 13:58.

Newsnight programme (27 May 2010)

BBC iPlayer

BBC Scotland Investigates – 2010 – 6. Who’s Cheating Who?

Mark Daly investigates new government plans to end the UK’s sicknote culture by getting a million people off benefits and back to work. We reveal how, in Britain’s modern welfare state, private companies are paid billions to carry out medical assessments on claimants to determine if they are fit for work, and ask if they are putting profits before welfare. The film hears claims that patients across Scotland with severe mental illness and cancer are being denied benefits and told they must find a job.

Broadcast on:

BBC One, 10:45pm Wednesday 26th May 2010

Duration: 30 minutes
Available until: 11:14pm Wednesday 2nd June 2010
Categories: News, Scotland

BBC News: “New benefit system labelled unfit”

A new benefits system promising to end the UK’s sicknote culture has been condemned as unfit for purpose.

Employment Support Allowance (ESA) was introduced 18 months ago to replace incapacity benefit.

But its new medical assessment has led to allegations by Citizens Advice Scotland that it targets the most vulnerable.

However, the Department for Work and Pensions believes ESA is the best way to ensure people get back to work.

A BBC Scotland investigation found that under ESA, more than two thirds of claimants are being found fit to work, almost 20% more than the government had planned.

Full article on BBC Scotland here

From Steve Donnison Benefits and Work

Atos medicals on TV [26 may] plus more secret recording

26 May 2010

Dear Subscriber,

In this issue we have what we regard as an absolutely brilliant letter by a member who decided that he was going to record his medical secretly, but informed Atos in writing in advance that he was going to do so. It worked for him and you may well want to give it a try yourself: Recording medicals – excellent strategy from a member (This article is members only)

Atos won’t be happy about this and they probably aren’t very pleased about featuring in a TV programme tonight, Wednesday 26th May. Who’s Cheating Who?, which questions whether employment and support allowance is fit for purpose and whether profits are being put before welfare, is on at 10.45pm on BBC1 Scotland. (Even if you don’t live in Scotland, you should be able to watch if you have freeview, Sky or cable TV). We know that many Benefits and Work members provided information to the makers of this programme and we’d be very interested to have your comments after you’ve watched. More details and your opportunity to comment: Who’s Cheating Who?

Another group of people who aren’t feeling too happy at the moment are MP’s There’s outrage at Westminster over the impression that Ipsa, the new expenses authority, is treating our honourable members as if they were – in the words of one ex-minister ‘benefits claimants’: Shed real tears as you read about the tribulations of our honourable members: Outrage as MPs treated like claimants

Sadly, there are clouds on the horizon for claimants too, as the Queen’s Speech includes a welfare reform bill intended to simplify the benefits system and, somewhat miraculously, move 5 million claimants currently ‘languishing’ on benefits into work as a result: Major changes to benefits ahead

There’s more cheering news from north of the border, though. A member of the Scottish parliament has tabled a motion asking for an urgent review of employment and support allowance on the grounds that it’s unit for purpose. Whilst the motion won’t have any practical effect, we think that supporting an elected representative anywhere in the UK who has the courage to speak out in favour of sick and disabled claimants is worthwhile. Find out more and send Hugh O’Donnell a message of support here: Scottish motion against ESA

Finally, there’s no shortage of sad, angry and desperate tales in the forum at the moment, but we’ve managed to find a few happy ones to keep the mostly positive tone of this newsletter going right through to the end.

Appeal Success at loooooong last


ESA Success of sorts!

Tribunal-I Love You!

Good luck,

Steve Donnison

(c) 2010 Steve Donnison. You are welcome to reproduce this newsletter on your website or blog, provided you do so in full.

Daily Mail  |  26 May 2010

New disability benefit system is flawed and could cost taxpayer MORE, says one of its architects

One of the architects of a new benefit system for disabled people urged the Government to delay rolling it out today after evidence that medical tests are wrongly finding thousands of people fit for work…

Full article here

Carer Watch  |  30 April 2010

A campaign group for carers across the UK run by independent, unpaid carers

Silence from Leaders re Carers Benefits is deafening

We thought this may be of interest to you ( and your members). As much as social care has been given such a high profile, we feel once again family carers have been overlooked.Comments can be added to the blog post.

Agenda: APPG on ME meeting Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Agenda: APPG on ME meeting Wednesday, 10 March 2010


APPG Legacy Paper 26.02.10

Agenda meeting 10 March 2010


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.


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 ( , 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

DSM-5 (DSM-V) proposed revisions and draft criteria published today

DSM-5 (DSM-V) proposed revisions and draft criteria published today

Shortlink to this Post:

Today, 10 February, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) released draft proposals for revisions to DSM-IV and draft criteria for DSM-5.

American Psychiatric Association DSM-5 Development

Proposed Draft Revisions to DSM Disorders and Criteria are published here on the APA’s relaunched DSM-5 website

Selected material for revision of “Somatoform Disorders” on this ME agenda posting and this Dx Revision Watch site DSM-5 Draft proposals page.

The comment period runs from 10 February to 20 April.

Open APA News Release here in PDF format or text below

APA News Release:

Public release date: 10-Feb-2010

Contact: Jaime Valora
American Psychiatric Association

APA announces draft diagnostic criteria for DSM-5

New proposed changes posted for leading manual of mental disorders

ARLINGTON, Va. (Feb. 10, 2010) – The American Psychiatric Association today released the proposed draft diagnostic criteria for the fifth edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The draft criteria represent content changes under consideration for DSM, which is the standard classification of mental disorders used by mental health and other health professionals, and is used for diagnostic and research purposes.

“These draft criteria represent a decade of work by the APA in reviewing and revising DSM,” said APA President Alan Schatzberg, M.D. “But it is important to note that DSM-5 is still very much a work in progress – and these proposed revisions are by no means final.” The proposed diagnostic criteria will be available for public comment until April 20, and will be reviewed and refined over the next two years. During this time, the APA will conduct three phases of field trials to test some of the proposed diagnostic criteria in real-world clinical settings.

Proposed revisions

Members of 13 work groups, representing different categories of psychiatric diagnoses, have reviewed a wide body of scientific research in the field and consulted with a number of expert advisors to arrive at their proposed revisions to DSM. Among the draft revisions are the following:

• The recommendation of new categories for learning disorders and a single diagnostic category, “autism spectrum disorders” that will incorporate the current diagnoses of autistic disorder, Asperger’s disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder and pervasive developmental disorder (not otherwise specified). Work group members have also recommended that the diagnostic term “mental retardation” be changed to “intellectual disability,” bringing the DSM criteria into alignment with terminology used by other disciplines.

• Eliminating the current categories substance abuse and dependence, replacing them with the new category “addiction and related disorders.” This will include substance use disorders, with each drug identified in its own category.

• Eliminating the category of dependence will better differentiate between the compulsive drug-seeking behavior of addiction and normal responses of tolerance and withdrawal that some patients experience when using prescribed medications that affect the central nervous system.

• Creating a new category of “behavioral addictions,” in which gambling will be the sole disorder. Internet addiction was considered for this category, but work group members decided there was insufficient research data to do so, so they recommended it be included in the manual’s appendix instead, with a goal of encouraging additional study.

• New suicide scales for adults and adolescents to help clinicians identify those individuals most at risk, with a goal of enhancing interventions across a broad range of mental disorders; the scales include research-based criteria such as impulsive behavior and heavy drinking in teens.

• Consideration of a new “risk syndromes” category, with information to help clinicians identify earlier stages of some serious mental disorders, such as neurocognitive disorder (dementia) and psychosis.

• A proposed new diagnostic category, temper dysregulation with dysphoria (TDD), within the Mood Disorders section of the manual. The new criteria are based on a decade of research on severe mood dysregulation, and may help clinicians better differentiate children with these symptoms from those with bipolar disorder or oppositional defiant disorder.

• New recognition of binge eating disorder and improved criteria for anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, as well as recommended changes in the definitions of some eating disorders now described as beginning in infancy and childhood to emphasize that they may also develop in older individuals.

The APA has prepared detailed press releases on each of these topics, which are available on the DSM-5 Web site.

Dimensional Assessments

In addition to proposed changes to specific diagnostic criteria, the APA is proposing that “dimensional assessments” be added to diagnostic evaluations of mental disorders. These would permit clinicians to evaluate the severity of symptoms, as well as take into account “cross-cutting” symptoms that exist across a number of different diagnoses (such as insomnia or anxiety).

“We know that anxiety is often associated with depression, for example, but the current DSM doesn’t have a good system for capturing symptoms that don’t fit neatly into a single diagnosis, said David Kupfer, M.D., chair of the DSM-5 Task Force. “Dimensional assessments represent an important benefit for clinicians evaluating and treating patients with mental illness. It may help them better evaluate how a patient is improving with treatment, help them address symptoms that affect a patient’s quality of life and better assess patients whose symptoms may not yet be severe – leading to earlier effective treatment.”

Careful Consideration of Gender, Race and Ethnicity

The process for developing the proposed diagnostic criteria for DSM-5 has included careful consideration of how gender, race and ethnicity may affect the diagnosis of mental illness. The team has sought significant involvement of women, members of diverse racial and ethnic groups, and international researchers and clinicians. The APA also designated a specific study group to review and research these issues, and ensure they were taken into account in the development of diagnostic criteria.

The Gender and Cross-Cultural Study Group reviewed epidemiological data sets from the United States and other countries to determine if there were significant differences in incidence of mental illness among different subgroups (e.g., gender, race and ethnicity) that might indicate a bias in currently-used diagnostic criteria, including conducting meta-analyses (additional analyses combining data from different studies). Group members reviewed the literature from a broad range of international researchers who have explored issues of gender, ethnic and racial differences for specific diagnostic categories of mental illness. The study group also considered whether there was widespread cultural bias in criteria for specific diagnoses.

As a result of this process, the study group has tried to determine whether the diagnostic categories of mental illness in DSM need changes in order to be sensitive to the various ways in which gender, race and culture affect the expression of symptoms.

Public Review of Proposed Revisions

The resulting recommendations for revisions to the current DSM are being posted on the APA’s Web site for the manual,, for public review and written comment. These comments will be reviewed and considered by the relevant DSM-5 Work Groups.

“The process for developing DSM-5 continues to be deliberative, thoughtful and inclusive,” explained Dr. Kupfer. “It is our job to review and consider the significant advances that have been made in neuroscience and behavioral science over the past two decades. The APA is committed to developing a manual that is both based on the best science available and useful to clinicians and researchers.”

Overview of DSM-5 Development Process

The last edition of DSM was published in 1994. Beginning in 2000, during the initial phase of revising DSM, the APA engaged almost 400 international research investigators in 13 NIH supported conferences. In order to invite comments from the wider research, clinical and consumer communities, the APA launched a DSM-5 Prelude Web site in 2004 to garner questions, comments, and research findings during the revision process.

Starting in 2007, the DSM-5 Task Force and Work Groups, made up of over 160 world-renowned clinicians and researchers, were tasked with building on the previous seven years of scientific reviews, conducting additional focused reviews, and garnering input from a wide range of advisors as the basis for proposing draft criteria. In addition to the work groups in diagnostic categories, there were study groups assigned to review gender, age and cross-cultural issues.

Based on the upcoming comments to the draft criteria and findings of the field trials, the work groups will propose final revisions to the diagnostic criteria in 2012. The final draft of DSM-5 will be submitted to the APA’s Assembly and Board of Trustees for their review and approval. A release of the final, approved DSM-5 is expected in May 2013.

The American Psychiatric Association is a national medical specialty society whose physician members specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and research of mental illnesses, including substance use disorders. Visit the APA at and .

Can the MRC PACE Trial be justified: Margaret Williams 17.12.09

A new article from Margaret Williams:


Open as Word document:  Can the MRC PACE Trial be justified Williams 17.12.09

Also available at:


Can the MRC PACE Trial be justified

by Margaret Williams

17 December 2009

In March 2003 the House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology produced its Report “The Work of The Medical Research Council” (HC 132) in which MPs issued a damning judgment on the MRC, lambasting it for wasting funds and for introducing misguided strategies for its research. The Select Committee had received seven representations about the MRC’s refusal to heed the biomedical evidence about ME/CFS. MPs found evidence of poor planning and of focusing on “politically-driven” projects that have diverted money away from top-quality proposals. The unprecedented attack was the result of a detailed probe into the workings of the MRC. In particular, MPs questioned why the MRC was content to support policies and projects that are likely to perpetuate such criticism.

Given that biomedical research, including gene research (which has shown that in people with ME/CFS, there are more gene abnormalities present than are found in cancer sufferers) has demonstrated that the psychiatrists who hold such sway at the MRC are comprehensively wrong about ME/CFS, nowhere could such criticism be more apposite than in relation to the PACE Trial.

Patients with ME/CFS and their families are in despair, because no-one in authority in the UK seems to be listening: as Mike O’Brien MP, Minister of State for Health, made plain at the APPGME meeting on 2nd December 2009, Ministers can no longer tell agencies of State what to do. This apparently means that, no matter what conclusions are arrived at or what recommendations are made or what evidence is put before a Minister, the Minister concerned can deny having any power to implement change. The Minister himself is reported to have said that he could not require the MRC to undertake research in any specific field, nor could he require Primary Care Trusts to follow Ministerial command. As far as ME/CFS is concerned, it seems that there is nothing the Government can – or will – do about the current situation.

It is apparent that the Government feels no duty of care towards those whose life has been devastated by ME/CFS, a situation that is borne out by Professor Stephen Holgate’s confirmation at the Royal Society of Medicine Meeting on 11th July 2009 (Medicine and me; hearing the patients’ voice) that the Government will not permit integrated research into ME/CFS.

This can only mean that the influence of the Wessely School over the lives of people with ME/CFS will continue and that their tactics of denial will remain unchallenged, no matter what the calibre of the biomedical evidence showing them to be wrong. As people recently drily commented on an ME group, those tactics include:

“load up your committees with your biased friends and pretend they are offering a fresh look; give really negative scorings to biomedical applications; try to stop biomedical papers getting published in the better known journals; make sure to keep on publishing psychiatric rubbish to bias the general medical population and scientific community against any other explanation, and give the impression that CBT/GET is all that is needed i.e. no need to waste all that money on silly biomedical projects” ( 6th December 2009) and

“ensure you use the sketchiest diagnostic criteria you can get away with; wherever possible, avoid seeing / talking to patients at all; never discuss / involve the severely affected; avoid using objective outcome measures; rotate the name of lead authors on papers and ensure you include plenty of reference papers from your psychosocial mates….” ( 7th December 2009).

As others have noted, the strategy is (1) to ignore ME; (2) to ensure that CFS is seen as a problem of false perception, then (3) to reclassify “CFS/ME” as a somatoform disorder (Co-Cure NOT:ACT: 12th January 2008), which is far removed from the reality of ME/CFS, the CNS dysfunctions of which are described by Dr Byron Hyde as being caused by “widespread, measurable, diffuse micro-vasculitis affecting normal cell operation and maintenance….The evidence would suggest that ME is caused primarily by a diverse group of viral infections that have neurotropic characteristics and that appear to exert their influence primarily on the CNS arterial bed” (ibid).

Patients and their families, many clinicians and researchers are well aware of such strategies and tactics but – so powerfully has the Wessely School myth about ME/CFS been promulgated – have been unable to halt them.

As Dr Jacob Teitelbaum reported, the XMRV virus study clearly documents that (ME)CFS is validated within the mainstream medical community as a real, physical and devastating illness, “again proving that those who abuse patients by implying that the disease is all in their mind are being cruel and unscientific…Though the economics may cause a few insurance companies to continue to unethically deny the science, so they can avoid paying for the health care and disability costs they are responsible for, this research should speed up understanding of the illness. Meanwhile, for those with the illness, their families and their physicians, it is now clear that this is a real and devastating illness” (Co-Cure RES: 4th December 2009).

There can be no doubt that, for patients with ME/CFS as distinct from those suffering from chronic “fatigue”, neither CBT nor GET is effective, otherwise everyone would by now be cured. Continue reading “Can the MRC PACE Trial be justified: Margaret Williams 17.12.09”

Jobless to be offered ‘talking treatment’ to help put Britain back to work


Image and video hosting by TinyPic

“We run your life, so you don’t have to” courtesy Gordon’s Good Idea


Guardian  |  Allegra Stratton, Political correspondent  |  04 December 2009

Jobless to be offered ‘talking treatment’ to help put Britain back to work

Jobcentres will bypass doctors to refer claimants for cognitive behaviour therapy at up to 300 centres

The government has announced mental health co-ordinators will be based in Jobcentres.

Jobless Britons are to be offered therapy to help them get back into work, under a “talking treatment” programme to be announced by the government over the next few weeks.

On Monday the Department for Work and Pensions will announce that mental health co-ordinators will be based in Jobcentres. The plans, which will make mental health treatment and particularly cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) central to the fight to get Britain back to work after the recession, will eventually see centres providing CBT set up around the country.

In the medium term, Jobcentre Plus will be encouraged to send unemployed people for CBT without the need for a doctor’s referral. Within five years the government wants 250-300 therapy centres set up across the UK.

Sessions of CBT – which encourages people to look for potential solutions rather than the causes of difficulties – are today available to patients referred by their doctor, but the government wants to build on 60 pilot schemes to provide therapy centres in most primary care trusts. Successful pilots have shown that a mix of ages and ethnicity is to be encouraged so centres can offer group therapy with a cross-section of people.

The chancellor, Alistair Darling, has signed off the commitment which will cost £550m a year redirected from what the government hopes will be a fall in unemployment. There is no new money involved.

Under the plans, unemployed people would be eligible for eight therapy sessions immediately. Within five years anyone, including people in work, would be allowed to “refer themselves in” for treatment.

One in four people are likely to experience a mental health problem and the effects on the jobs market are acute. Some 6 million adults in the UK have been diagnosed with depression or anxiety, many of whom are on incapacity benefit.

The move follows years of lobbying by Tony Blair’s “happiness tsar”, economist Lord Layard. Provision of cognitive behaviour therapy on the NHS was his earlier triumph but Layard has continued to lobby for it to be central to the jobs strategy.

Layard and others were concerned that people with mild depression attributable to unemployment or working difficulties and referred for CBT by doctors were rarely asked to consider work-related issues. Likewise Jobcentres did not prescribe therapy for those for whom varying degrees of depression were a barrier to work. The former work and pensions secretary, James Purnell, said: “Mild depression doesn’t have to be a barrier to work.”

About 40% of long-term sickness benefit claimants have depression. Work is being done on whether some people should have CBT before they go on to employment support allowance, which an official described as “an eight-week period which prevents people even going into long-term disability”.

The official said: “We want a service where everyone who needs it can get access to basic talking treatments. The pilots are proving so successful that, whilst there are short-term costs, we expect the programme to save money in the long-term by helping people back into work, cutting the benefit bill and lowering costs in the NHS.”

Ministers are worried that past recessions have led to huge rises in the numbers of long-term unemployed.

What is CBT?

Cognitive behaviour therapy doesn’t attempt deep psychoanalysis but instead works to recommend to a patient practical steps to overcome the depression that has proved debilitating for them.

Created in the 1960s by the American psychiatrist Aaron Beck, it operates on the assumption that since emotions are based on patterns of thinking, if the patterns of thinking can be changed so too can the emotions. To the end of changing those patterns, patients are given targets and homework to isolate what makes them blue, and then they can set about managing that trigger.

The government’s adviser on these issues, Lord Layard, believes that a short course of CBT delivered by a therapist with only basic training is all that is required to cure a substantial proportion of those out of work because of depression or mental health problems.

He recommends double the figure the government is suggesting – 16 course sessions – which he costed at £750 a head, something he pointed out was about the cost to the state of someone remaining on incapacity benefit.

Critics accuse CBT of being the ultimate quick-fix solution for a quick-fix age, driving real problems that had possibly surfaced for a reason, deeper into someone’s psyche with unknown later effects.


See also:

BBC News  |  07 December 2009

Depression targeted in government policy shift

“10-year strategy expected to call for better identification of those most at risk and wider access to psychological therapies for patients.”


New Statesman

Textual health  | Alyssa McDonald | 26 November 2009


From October 09

On Sunday, the Observer reported on cutbacks faced by Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (Iapt) programme which is failing to meet government tarkets:

The Observer | 4 October 2009

Flagship mental health scheme faces cutbacks

Only 400 therapists have been trained out of the 3,600 needed for the scheme

by Jamie Doward

“A flagship government strategy to train an army of therapists to get the nation off antidepressants and into work could be dramatically scaled back amid claims it is experiencing problems.”

The government claims the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (Iapt) programme will treat 900,000 people and help about half of them to make a full recovery. It also aims to get 25,000 people suffering from anxiety and depression off sick pay and benefits by 2010/11.

But the Observer understands there are now concerns about whether these targets can be met.”

Read full article here


Related material

Tories would force jobless to work  |  Sunday Times  |  4 October 2009

Cameron to slash benefit payouts to 500,000 now deemed ‘unfit to work’  |  Times |  5 October 2009 

Iapt documents:

See also: The Elephant in the Room Series Two: More on MUPS

See also: Lords Debate on CBT

Image and video hosting by TinyPic“They run your life, so you don’t have to” courtesy Gordon’s Good Idea

Benefits and Work: November and December 09 updates

Benefits and Work: November and December 09 updates


From Benefits and Work’s Steve Donninson:

27 November 2009

New DLA form con trick

In this newsletter we warn about the possible dangers of a seductively short new DLA renewal claim form which has the potential to wipe out your entire award in a couple of ticks. Is it just a DWP con trick?

On a cheerier note, we look at how some people manage to get many thousands of pounds from the DWP as compensation for poor and insulting treatment. Persistence, it seems, does sometimes pay.

We also have the bizarre news that within days of us ending our 100 day campaign to save DLA and AA it was taken up by…the Conservative party. It’s true, of course that it was the Tories who introduced DLA in the first place, but somehow we never expected to find ourselves becoming the unofficial Conservative party think tank.

Not entirely unconnected with this news is the fact that the Daily Mail has suddenly begun writing in defence of DLA and AA claimants – so long as they’re over 65, that is.

Elsewhere, Holiday Whitehead, our resident barrister, has been answering some of your queries about employing carers following our article last month about a disabled employer’s shock £35,000 tax bill.

Finally, we have another shot of good news from happy members, including people who have successfully appealed their ESA refusals. We particularly liked the tale of one of our members who was refused help from a CAB with her DLA challenge on the grounds that – thanks to Benefits and Work – she knew more than they did!

Good luck,

Steve Donnison

Tories launch save DLA and AA campaign

 The Conservatives have launched a save DLA and AA campaign within days of the Benefits and Work campaign ending, leading to labour accusations of ‘scaremongering’ and ‘gutter politics’.

I got full mobility and personal care!

More feedback from happy members, including successful ESA claims and appeals and DLA claims.

Tabloid support for DLA and AA campaign

The Daily Mail has today published an article highlighting a ‘rebellion’ by Labour MPs ‘over plans to end benefits for needy pensioners’.

Benefits advice stopped

The Law Gazette is reporting that claimants needing benefits advice under the legal aid scheme are being turned away because legal aid funding has run out.


Not yet a member?
Find out how to join Benefits and Work and get instant access to all our downloadable claims and appeals guides, DWP materials, members news items and more.

How some claimants get thousands of £££ in DWP compensation

Many people are treated with outrageous unfairness by the DWP. Most just endure it, some complain and get nowhere, a tiny number get compensation of up to £10,000. How do they do it?.

Your queries about employing carers answered

Holiday Whitehead, our resident barrister, answers some of your queries about employing carers.

Is new DLA form a con trick?

A new short DLA renewal form appears to be being used to con claimants into not giving evidence about their condition and then refusing them an award, as a Benefits and Work member recently discovered to their cost. Astonishingly, a letter accompanying the form also advises people to fraudulently allow their current DLA claim to continue, even if they know that they are no longer entitled to any money.

If you have problems accessing the site or logging in, visit the Help with the site page, where you can find possible solutions and contact details for our technical support.

(c) 2009 Steve Donnison. All rights reserved


04 December 2009

Are claimants at risk from assessment rip-off?

We hadn’t intended to bring out another newsletter until next week. But then a confidential letter detailing the new, increased, pay rates for Atos doctors and nurses came sliding from our fax machine and we decided we’d better publish it immediately.

So, in a brief newsletter, we reveal just how much those doctors and nurses are making from the taxpayer for creating ESA, DLA and IB medical reports. From what we’ve learnt, it seems safe to assume that Atos assessors won’t be shopping at Iceland this Christmas.

Harrods, on the other hand, may need to get in a few extra hampers.

In a not unrelated story we look at the problems caused by the DWP carrying out assessments much later than they should be. Are taxpayers being ripped-off and claimants being put at risk?

(The answer is ‘Yes!’ , in case you’re in any doubt).

We also have news of the early day motion in support of DLA and AA put forward by a liberal democrat MP. Do check to see if your MP has signed it and, if they haven’t, please do pursue them with infuriating persistence.

Finally, we have the tale of the claimant whose ESA has been stopped largely, it seems, because of his sad inability to travel back and forth through time at will.

Who’d have thought you’d need a tardis to be a successful ESA claimant?

Good luck,

Steve Donnison

91 MPs sign motion against DLA and AA cuts – has yours?

91 MPs have so far signed an early day motion urging the government to drop proposals to cut disability living allowance and attendance allowance to fund the new National Care Service. Benefits and Work is urging members to put pressure on your own MP to sign, if they have not done so already.

ESA for Time Lords

A Benefits and Work member has had their employment and support allowance suspended, seemingly on the grounds that they are unable to travel through time.

Not yet a member?

Find out how to join Benefits and Work and get instant access to all our downloadable claims and appeals guides, DWP materials, members news items and more.

Are claimants at risk from ESA assessment rip-off?
Taxpayers are unfairly paying out many thousands of pounds, and claimants health may be being put at risk, due to employment and support allowance assessments being carried out scandalously late

Can Atos doctors earn more than Gordon Brown?

Benefits and Work has obtained a copy of a confidential letter which reveals exactly how much Atos medical assessors receive in taxpayers’ cash for carrying out different types of benefits medicals. Astonishingly, some may at times be on a higher rate of pay than the prime minister.

If you have problems accessing the site or logging in, visit the Help with the site page, where you can find possible solutions and contact details for our technical support.

(c) 2009 Steve Donnison. You are welcome to reproduce this newsletter (but not the articles it links to) on your website, forum or blog.


04 December 2009

Apology and BBC Scotland

Just to say sorry, the members only links weren’t working when we sent out the newsletter this morning. We hope we have now fixed them. But if you still have problems, there’s a link to the latest articles in the Members Only news box at the bottom of the home page.

Also, we forgot to mention that BBC Scotland are very keen to talk to ESA claimants about the difficulties of claiming. More details in the forum at:

Alternatively, just in case we’re still having a bad link day, here’s what they’re asking:

Just how difficult is it to get ESA? BBC Scotland wants to know!

BBC Scotland are making a half hour radio documentary about the difficulties people face when trying to claim ESA – in particular with the health assessments carried out as part of the process. The programme aims to highlight problems with the new system and to investigate why people with genuine illnesses and disabilities are being declared fit to work.

If you’ve had a problem claiming ESA and are willing to talk about your experience, then please contact Kathy Long on 0141 422 7277 or Fiona Walker on 0141 422 7863. Or email:  /

All information will be treated in confidence and contributions to the programme may be made anonymously if preferred.

Good luck,

Steve Donnison

If you have problems accessing the site or logging in, visit the Help with the site page, where you can find possible solutions and contact details for our technical support.

(c) 2009 Steve Donnison. You are welcome to reproduce this newsletter (but not the articles it links to) on your website, forum or blog.

APPG on ME: Agenda meeting 2 December 2009

APPG on ME: Agenda meeting 2 December 2009



The APPG on ME maintains a website here:

Agenda APPG for ME 2 Dec 2009

APPG agenda 02/12/2009

19 December 2009

The next meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on M.E. will be held 3.15-4.45pm, Wednesday 2 December 2009 in 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

Declaration of interests for the CFS/ME Expert Group

Declaration of interests for the CFS/ME Expert Group


On 13 November, Tate Mitchell reports, via Co-Cure, a new page on the MRC’s website:

Declaration of interests for the CFS/ME Expert Group

Interests for members of the Expert Group are declared under the following categories:

Personal Remuneration (employment, pensions, consultancies, directorships, honoraria etc)
Registrable Shareholdings and Financial Interests in Companies
Research Income during current session (over £50k per grant)
Major academic collaborations (national and international)
Unremunerated involvement with and membership of medical, biomedical, pharmaceutical, healthcare provision or similar activities/organisations
Political/pressure group associations
Members are informed of the MRC policy of declarations of interest at the first meeting and asked to return their completed forms to the Secretariat. The interest declared to date are listed below.

Dr Charles Shepherd

Dr Derek Pheby

Dr Esther Crawley

Dr Jonathan Kerr

Professor Anthony Pinching

Professor Hugh Perry

Professor Ian Kimber

Professor Malcolm Jackson

Professor Peter White

Professor Philip Cowen

Professor Stephen Holgate

Sir Peter Spencer

Benefits and Work: You’re not so easy to silence

An update from Benefits and Work’s Steve Donnison

WordPress Shortlink:

Steve Donnison  |  10 November 2009

You’re not so easy to silence

With just a few days of consultation left now, Andy Burnham’s attempt to ‘close down…the debate and controversy over disability living allowance’ seems to have been only a partial success.

As we explained in our last newsletter, Burnham gave an assurance that DLA for people aged under 65 was not going to form part of the funding for the National Care Service. Like many others, we pointed out that this means that DLA for people aged 65 and over, as well as AA, is still under threat. We urged people not to let this cunningly worded concession succeed in silencing them.

And you certainly didn’t.

People have continued to sign the No 10 petition, which is now at number 6 on the Downing Street site with over 20,000 signatures.

And posts have continued to pour into the Big Care debate website which now has almost 3,400 submissions.

Many recent posts make it clear that you are aware that assurances have been give about DLA for people aged under 65, but you’re still not happy.

In addition, following our revelations in a members only article on the site at the end of last month, many recent posts have been about the fact that the government proposes to send everyone a one-off £20,000 tax bill on their 65th birthday to help cover the cost of the proposed National Care Service.

More secrecy around National Care Service

The tax will be means-tested, so not everyone will have to pay the full amount. But it can be recovered from your estate after you die, if you own a home or other property. And the tax also won’t cover the cost of food and accommodation if you have to go into residential care, only the care itself.

So, you still facing losing your disability benefits at age 65, you’ll still get handed a £20,000 tax bill and yet, if you do have to go into residential care for two years, the green paper estimates that you will still have to pay half of the estimated £50,000 cost from your own pocket.

MPs were also not fooled into silence by Burnham’s DLA announcement. In a debate on the proposals at the end of last month, Burnham was repeatedly questioned about whether DLA for people aged 65 and over would be used to fund the National Care Service. He repeatedly dodged answering the question.

Burnham refuses to answer DLA questions

Suspicions about the government’s plans have been further fuelled by its refusal to publish promised details of how the new service will be funded.

More secrecy around National Care Service

A coalition of charities – the Care and Support Alliance – is now set to make a Freedom of Information request to try to obtain the information.

Unfortunately, there is at least one organisation which continues to claim that DLA is now safe. . . Disability Alliance. Until the end of last week their home page still proclaimed ‘DLA no longer part of social care plans. See our press release.’

The link has now been removed from their home page, but the press release stating that “…the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) benefit will not be affected by Government plans to merge some benefits with social care funding” remains. So, Burnham may have succeeded in closing down the debate in one place at least.

For the rest of us, we still have until Friday to make our contribution to the Big Care debate and to sign the petition.

We’ll be back next Tuesday with our final email of this campaign and information about how you can stay in touch with what happens next.

Good luck,

Steve Donnison

Please feel free to forward or publish this article.

Benefits and Work Publishing Ltd
Company registration No. 5962666

Finally, remember that you can post your news in the Benefits and Work forum, if you’re a member, at:

and/or in the free welfare watch forums at:

You can also keep up with news about opposition to the green paper at the Carer Watch campaign blog:

Unfortunately, we’re getting so many emails on this subject that we are unlikely to be able to respond individually. But we do appreciate hearing your news and views and we do encourage you to publish them for others to read on the forums detailed above.