Ian Swales, MP amends his understanding of government policy on CFS and ME

Ian Swales, MP amends his understanding of government policy on CFS and ME terminology (Three Parliamentary errors)

Shortlink Post: http://wp.me/p5foE-3hH

On 2 February 2011, Ian Swales (Lib Dem, Redcar) addressed a Parliamentary Adjournment Debate on ME. During that debate, the Health Minister, Paul Burstow, had stated that the World Health Organisation (WHO) uses the composite term CFS/ME for this condition.

This was incorrect. The WHO does not use the composite terms “CFS/ME” or “ME/CFS”.

In a Parliamentary Written Answer to Mr Swales, dated 16 February, the Health Minister corrected his error [1].

Mr Burstow had clarified:

“…During the Westminster Hall debate, on 4 February 2011, I said that the World Health Organisation uses the composite term CFS/ME for this condition. This was incorrect.

“The World Health Organisation classes benign myalgic encephalomyelitis and post viral fatigue syndrome under the same classification G93.3 ‘diseases of the nervous system’; subheading ‘other disorders of the brain’.

“The report of the CFS/ME Working Group to the Chief Medical Officer, in January in 2002, suggested that the composite term CFS/ME be used as an umbrella term for this condition, or spectrum of disease. This term is also used by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence for their clinical guidelines.

“We do, however, intend to seek further advice on our classification and will update the hon. Member in due course.”

[Note that although Health Minister, Paul Burstow, gave the date of Ian Swales’ Adjournment Debate as “4 February” in his Written Answer of 16 February, the Debate took place on 2 February 2011.]

On 17 February, Mr Swales published a report on his website which went out under the title “Swales wins battle with Government on ME”. This report had claimed:

“Ian Swales MP’s fight for better treatment of myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) continues as he succeeds in getting the Government to recognise ME and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) as different illnesses.”

But Mr Swales had misinterpreted the content of the Written Answer he had received from the Health Minister.

This has caused much confusion amongst ME and CFS patients.

Advocates have raised this misunderstanding with Mr Swales and with his Parliamentary Researcher.

Today, an amended report has been published on Mr Swales’ website under the same URL and date, but with a new title – this time it is called:

“Swales corrects Minister on World Health Organisation definition of ME”

I am appending both versions.

To recap, because this is important, and because there is a further error:

Paul Burstow, Health Minister, incorrectly stated on 2 February, during an Adjournment Debate, that the WHO uses the composite term CFS/ME for this condition. That error was corrected by Mr Burstow in his Written Answer of 17 February.

Ian Swales, MP, then claimed in a website report that he had succeeded in getting the government to recognise ME and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) as different illnesses. This was a misinterpretation of Mr Burstow’s own correction and clarification. Mr Swales’ Parliamentary Office has now amended his report.

The Countess of Mar, meanwhile, tabled a Written Question of her own for which a response was provided on 1 March, by Earl Howe [3].

The Countess of Mar had tabled:

“To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the statement by the Minister of State for Health, Paul Burstow, on 2 February (Official Report, Commons, col. 327) that the World Health Organisation (WHO) described myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) and that this was the convention followed by the Department, in light of the fact that the WHO International Classification of Diseases 10 lists ME as a neurological disease with post viral fatigue syndrome (PVFS) under G93.3 and CFS as a mental health condition under F48.0 and that the latter specifically excludes PVFS, whether they will adhere to that classification.”

The response received on 1 March, was:

Earl Howe (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Quality), Health; Conservative)

“The department will continue to use the composite term chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) for this condition, or spectrum of disease, as suggested by the Chief Medical Officer in his 2002 report. We recognise the condition as neurological in nature.”

But the Countess of Mar’s Written Question also contains an error.

In the International version of ICD-10 (the version used in the UK and over 110 other countries, but not in the US which uses a “Clinical Modification” of ICD-9), CFS is not classified as a mental health condition under F48.0.

Chronic fatigue syndrome is listed in ICD-10 Volume 3: The Alphabetical Index, where it is indexed to G93.3, the same code as Postviral fatigue syndrome.

So in International ICD-10, Postviral fatigue syndrome, Benign myalgic encephalomyelitis and Chronic fatigue syndrome are all three coded or indexed to G93.3 under “G93 Other disorders of brain”, in Chapter VI (6): Diseases of the nervous system.

In International ICD-10, the Mental and behavioural disorders chapter is Chapter V (5).

http://www.who.int/classifications/apps/icd/icd10online/?gf40.htm+f480

Chapter V (5) Mental and behavioural disorders

Neurotic, stress-related and somatoform disorders are coded between (F40-F48)

Neurasthenia
Fatigue syndrome

are classified under (F40-F48) at F48.0, which specifically Excludes

malaise and fatigue ( R53 )

and

postviral fatigue syndrome ( G93.3 )

So now you know what UK government policy is and that Mr Swales had misled himself.

The forthcoming US specific ICD-10-CM

Perhaps the focus can now return to more pressing issues – like the fact that in the US, a Partial Code Freeze is looming for the forthcoming US specific version of ICD-10, known as “ICD-10-CM”.

Under longstanding proposals, the committees developing ICD-10-CM intend to retain Chronic fatigue syndrome in the R codes, and code it under R53 Malaise and fatigue, at R53.82 Chronic fatigue syndrome (NOS), but propose to code for PVFS and ME in Chapter 6, under G93.3.

The R codes chapter (which will be Chapter 18 in ICD-10-CM) is the chapter for

“Symptoms, signs and abnormal clinical and laboratory findings, not elsewhere classified (R00-R99)”

“This chapter includes symptoms, signs, abnormal results of clinical or other investigative procedures, and ill defined conditions regarding which no diagnosis classifiable elsewhere is recorded.”

Coding CFS patients under R53.82 will consign them to a dustbin diagnosis: there are no guarantees that clinicians will use the unfamiliar ME code or that insurance companies will reimburse for G93.3. It will make patients more vulnerable to the proposals of the DSM-5 Somatic Symptom Disorders Work Group. It will mean that ICD-10-CM will be out of line with at least four versions of ICD-10, including the Canadian “Clinical Modification”, and also out of line with the forthcoming ICD-11, where all three terms are proposed to be coded in Chapter 6 Diseases of the nervous system.

There are only seven months left before the 1 October Code Freeze and the clock is ticking.

 

Here is the first version of Mr Swales’ website report, followed by his amended version.

Version One:

http://ianswales.com/en/article/2011/455560/swales-wins-battle-with-government-on-me

Swales wins battle with Government on ME

February 17, 2011 3:45 PM

Ian Swales MP’s fight for better treatment of myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) continues as he succeeds in getting the Government to recognise ME and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) as different illnesses.

During Ian’s recent parliamentary debate on ME he argued that the Government needs to distinguish between Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and ME to provide better treatment for the different illnesses.

However, Health Minister Paul Burstow MP responded by saying that the World Health Organisation classifies Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and ME as the same illness.

Following an outcry from the ME community about this statement, Ian challenged the Minister on his definition of CFS/ME. The Minister admitted that the definition he used in the debate was “incorrect”.

Commenting, Ian Swales MP said:

“I am pleased that the Government has now recognised that ME and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome are two different illnesses.

“After the debate I received a lot of correspondence from the ME community about the Government’s definition of CFS/ME, so after doing some more research on the matter I decided it was right to clarify this point with the Minister. I know they will be reassured by this news.

“I hope that approaching ME as a distinct condition will help lead to better, more effective treatment for sufferers through better analysis of their possible different causes and symptoms.”

[Ends]

Version Two:

http://ianswales.com/en/article/2011/455560/swales-wins-battle-with-government-on-me

Swales corrects Minister on World Health Organisation definition of ME

February 17, 2011 3:45 PM

Ian Swales MP’s fight for better treatment of myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) continues as he succeeds in getting the Government to acknowledge that the World Health Organisation does not use the composite term CFS/ME for the condition.

During Ian’s recent parliamentary debate on ME he argued that the Government needs to distinguish between Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and ME to provide better treatment for the different illnesses.

However, Health Minister Paul Burstow MP responded by saying that the World Health Organisation “uses the composite term CFS/ME for the condition”.

Following an outcry from the ME community about this statement, Ian challenged the Minister on his definition of CFS/ME. The Minister admitted that his statement was “incorrect”.

Commenting, Ian Swales MP said:

“I am pleased that the Minister has acknowledged the error he made in the debate.

“After the debate I received a lot of correspondence from the ME community about the Government’s definition of CFS/ME, so after doing some more research on the matter I decided it was right to clarify this point with the Minister. I know they will be reassured by this news.

“I will continue my campaign to get more effective treatment for sufferers of ME through better analysis of its causes and symptoms.”

[Ends]

The text of the Adjournment Debate can be read here, on Hansard
2 Feb 2011 : Column 323WH

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis
4.13 pm

Watch video, here, on BBC News:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/democracylive/hi/house_of_commons/newsid_9382000/9382412.stm

 

References:

[1] Written Answer: Paul Burstow to Ian Swales, 16 February 2011, 16 Feb 2011 : Column 864W:
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm110216/text/110216w0004.htm

[2] Amended Ian Swales website report:
http://ianswales.com/en/article/2011/455560/swales-wins-battle-with-government-on-me

[3] Written Answer: Earl Howe to The Countess of Mar, 01 March 2011:
http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2011-03-01a.297.1

Hansard for above:
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201011/ldhansrd/text/110301w0001.htm#11030162000766

[4] Hansard, House of Lords Debate: Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, 22 January 2004:
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200304/ldhansrd/vo040122/text/40122-12.htm

[5] Current codings in ICD-10 for Postviral fatigue syndrome; [Benign] myalgic encephalomyelitis and Chronic fatigue syndrome:
http://dxrevisionwatch.wordpress.com/icd-11-me-cfs/

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Transcript: BBC Radio Berkshire, Anne Diamond, ME/CFS: Shepherd, Findley, Parker

Transcript of BBC Radio Berkshire Anne Diamond Show, broadcast 11 November 2010

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p5foE-3dG

On 11 November, Radio Berkshire presenter, Anne Diamond, interviewed Dr Charles Shepherd, Medical Adviser for the ME Association and Professor Leslie Findley, Clinical Director of the National ME Centre and Centre for Fatigue Syndromes. Towards the end of the item, Duncan McLarty spoke to Phil Parker, founder of the Lightning Process.

See also previous post: http://wp.me/p5foE-3dk

Within the UK, until 18 November, you can “Listen again” to the Radio Berkshire broadcast here on BBC iPlayer. The item starts 2 hours 3 mins in from the start of programme and is around 12 minutes long.

Or listen on YouTube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YX3wFkDlhI

This transcript has been prepared by Suzy Chapman for ME agenda. Care has been taken in the preparation and proofreading of this transcript; some errors and omissions may remain.

The Anne Diamond Show, Thursday, 11 November 2010:

Anne Diamond: Last week on the show while Esther Rantzen was standing in, we looked at the subject of ME because people diagnosed with the condition are no longer able to give blood. Now we’ve had a huge response from people with experience of the condition and because this is such a controversial area we thought it might be a good idea to get some experts on to the show to deal with some of the points that have been raised.

Dr Charles Shepherd is Medical Adviser to the ME Association and Professor Leslie Findley is Clinical Director of the National ME Centre and the Centre for Fatigue Syndromes. I spoke to them both, earlier, and I asked Charles Shepherd just what is ME and are we any closer to knowing what causes it?

Dr Charles Shepherd: Well ME stands for “Myalgic Encephalomyelitis” and in very simple terms it’s an illness which often starts with a viral infection and people then have a range of symptoms, primarily muscle symptoms, muscle fatigue and also brain symptoms, problems with memory, concentration, balance, just generally feeling unwell. And these systems – I mean these symptoms – persist for a long period of time in many of these patients; it is a very disabling and has been recognised as a neurological illness.

Anne Diamond: Yes. Professor Findley, to be absolutely clear, nowadays there’s no longer any suggestion that it’s a psychological condition, is there?

Prof Findley: Erm, no, there’s no suggestion it’s a psychological condition but psychological factors can adversely influence the symptoms and they have to be taken into account when one’s planning a total management strategy for an individual patient.

Anne Diamond: Would you agree with that, Dr Shepherd, that nowadays we don’t look upon it as a psychological condition?

Dr Charles Shepherd: Well, I thoroughly agree, you know, the Department of Health, the World Health Organisation, classifies this as a neurological illness and you know, like with many chronic disabling illnesses, psychological factors, social factors, can sometimes play a role, that’s not disputed. But it is essentially a neurological illness with other factors involved.

Anne Diamond: Now you see, since Esther was talking about this last week we’ve had an email, for instance, which says that all the research and treatment funding then has inappropriately gone to the psychiatric profession since the 1980s. What do you say to that, both of you?

Dr Charles Shepherd: Well, to a certain extent well that is true. Certainly in the UK, the vast amount of government funded research has gone in to behavioural and psychological therapies and there has been a great deal of criticism about that. Fortunately, what we now have is the Medical Research Council [MRC] setting up an expert group which I am a member of, to look into research in this illness and we have been for the past two years looking at what needs to be done in the way of biomedical research and a list of priorities in biomedical research has now been sent to the board of the MRC – they are looking at these priorities and we are expecting an announcement very shortly on this.

Anne Diamond: Professor Findley, is it true then that we’ve been wasting money – directing the money towards the psychiatric profession?

Professor Findley: We….ell! Waste is a very, is a very strong word to use. The money, I agree with Charles, could have been used perhaps more wisely, but this is a complex illness and it represents, and the MRC would state this, that it represents a group of disorders, it is not a single entity and we’re still having great trouble defining within this large group of patients the individual types of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME that exist and if one takes a group of patients the symptom complex that the individuals complain of vary enormously…

Anne Diamond: And yet…?

Professor Findley: …and the NICE Guidelines recognise complex and severe Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME to emphasise the complexity of this, this, this illness, it is not a simple entity it’s not like some tuberculosis where you have a defined marker and a defined organism and a defined treatment.

Anne Diamond: So and Dr Shepherd, you would agree that this a range of different conditions?

Dr Charles Shepherd: Yes, and I mean this is another key point, that we have renamed and redefined this illness from ME into what’s now called “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome”, the term that the medical profession tends to use and unfortunately this has now produced, it’s rather like dumping everyone with different types of arthritis, inflammatory arthritis, osteoarthritis, infective arthritis, under one umbrella and saying that they’ve all got the same cause, the same symptoms and the same treatments and that does not apply to arthritis, it does not apply to everyone who comes under this umbrella of Chronic Fatigue/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

This is one of the key points the MRC is addressing the need for sub grouping people under this umbrella, finding the different causative factors that are going on and then applying appropriate different forms of management to the different types of sub groups under this umbrella.

Anne Diamond: Now, I mean, you look at the situation – for instance here in Berkshire – where our Primary Care Trusts [PCTs] are offering Cognitive Behavioural Therapy [CBT]. Is that appropriate any longer?

Dr Charles Shepherd: It’s not appropriate as a one size fits all treatment and this is our big problem with the NICE Guideline, it’s why patients object to the NICE Guideline because the NICE Guideline recommends CBT and Graded Exercise Therapy [GET] should be offered to everyone with mild to moderate ME and this is not what we feel is appropriate one size fits all treatment. Many patients find these therapies either ineffective, around about 50% with CBT and in the case of Graded Exercise treatment, if you apply this wrongly you make these patients worse. That’s why there is terrific concern and anger amongst the patient community with the NICE Guideline.

Anne Diamond: Can I move on to the…this business of the Lightning Therapy, the Lightning Process? Because it was very controversial when Esther was talking about it last week. Her daughter went through it, but some listeners were angry that we even mentioned the Lightning Process. Why is it so controversial? Professor Findley, first…

Professor Findley: Erm, that’s a very straightforward question with a very complex answer. I think the Lightning Process has a part to play in the management of some patients. It is not a specific treatment for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME, it’s used to treat a whole raft of conditions. But there are some patients that can be recognised who have factors which would lend themselves – factors which are perpetuating the illness – which would lend themselves to the Lightning Process.

Now these are, in my opinion, a very small group of patients overall, but because Lightning Process practitioners are often only experienced in that one technique they apply it to anybody who visits them with an objective of getting treatment, so their patients are treated in an unselected manner and therefore this has led to all sorts of complications and dissatisfaction.

Anne Diamond: Dr Shepherd?

Dr Charles Shepherd: Well, I have this strong objection to the Lightning Process – in particular the way it’s marketed to very vulnerable groups of people with adverts which are making unsubstantiated claims about success rates.

Professor Findley: Agreed…agreed.

Anne Diamond: But it clearly is true for some and as you both seem to be agreeing that this is multi-factorial, very complex, no one patient is exactly the same as the other.

Professor Findley: Well I think I absolutely agree with this, but erm… the…and I agree with Charles’ comments on the Lightning Process – it’s been badly, badly applied, poorly researched and we would use it or recommend it probably in perhaps one in thirty or one in forty of patients, after they have been properly assessed over a long period of time and more standard management programmes have been applied.

Anne Diamond: Before we run out of time, can I finally ask both of you really ‘cos a lot of people who contacted us were asking about recovery rates from ME. What can you tell us about the numbers and are indeed there any robust figures on this? Dr Shepherd, first.

Dr Charles Shepherd: Well, I wouldn’t say there were really robust figures. I think its, a lot of it is clinical judgement from individuals, you know, that see patients with this and you know, a limited amount of epidemiological research.

Where I come in is I think we probably have three groups. We have a group at one end of the spectrum who are severely effected certainly at some stage in their illness and they probably account for about 25% of the total, I mean these are people who are bed-bound, wheelchair-bound, house-bound.

We have a large group in the middle who make some degree of, I think the word here is improvement, over the course of time but do not recover but they hit a glass ceiling, 50, 60, 70% of what they were normally like and then we have a small group at the other end of the spectrum who make a much more significant degree of improvement or may even finally recover – an example there is Yvette Cooper, a former government minister. I would add that the improvement/prognosis in children/adolescents with this disease does seem to be a lot better than it is in adults.

Anne Diamond: And Professor Findley?

Professor Findley: I would, there aren’t robust figures and I think Charles is right, we would normally say that the average duration taken across the group, the average duration of this type of illness is three to five years with at least 40% of patients never getting back to previous levels of functioning and I’d agree with Charles there is the very severe group and their prognosis is appalling and they very rarely get any proper management advice.

Anne Diamond: Well that was Dr Charles Shepherd and Professor Leslie Findley speaking to me a little earlier on. It’s a very important subject isn’t it?

It’s very important that we hear a balanced argument on it. So we put some of those issues to the founder of the Lightning Process, Phil Parker. Phil’s website calls the process “A non medical tool that is tailored to help people who are stuck in their life or health”. Well BBC Radio Berkshire’s Duncan McLarty, first asked him whether he agreed that the process is only appropriate in a small fraction of ME cases.

Phil Parker: You know that sounds like scientific data but it’s not science – there’s no evidence to say that, that’s just their opinion! First thing we do is have a chat with people and we assess them as to whether this is a really useful thing for them because obviously we want to see people who we think are going to get value from this.

Duncan McLarty: But if you’re not an ME specialist how would you know if it’s appropriate?

Phil Parker: Er, well we are specialists at the Lightning Process. We know more about the Lightning Process than these people because we designed it and trained in it. So what we are looking for is, do we think these people are likely to get benefit from the stuff that we do. What we’re really interested in is how can we help these people who, who’ve got stuck, where there aren’t many solutions, is there anything we can do to help them that’s really where we’re coming from.

Anne Diamond: Well can I just say thank you very much for all your emails on the subject of ME over the last week or so. I think we’ve certainly shown that it’s a complex area with plenty of strong and sometimes conflicting views. We also asked Phil Parker whether he agreed that the process was aggressively marketed as those two experts told me.

Phil Parker: Basically our practitioners, erm, don’t make claims. What they say is, that you know our experience is, that when some people use this they can make changes. That doesn’t guarantee change. If you…you know you have a business then you want to tell people about it that doesn’t make it aggressive marketing, that’s the thing I… deny and say that all we’re doing is, say look this is something that we’ve found is very useful, have a look at it and if you want to talk to us more about it then do, if you don’t that’s fine as well. We really don’t market it aggressively at all.

Anne Diamond: Well there you are, you see, that was Phil Parker, who is the founder of the Lightning Process, and earlier on I was talking to Dr Charles Shepherd, Medical Adviser to the ME Association, and Professor Leslie Findley who’s Clinical Director of the National ME Centre and the Centre for Fatigue Syndromes.

Related material:

1] SMILE – Specialist Medical Intervention and Lightning Evaluation documents (Lightning Process pilot study – children [now aged 12 to 18] with CFS and ME): http://wp.me/p5foE-37x

2] ASA adjudication against “Withinspiration”, June 2010

3] Background to this issue: http://wp.me/p5foE-2Vt

4] All posts on Lightning Process pilot study in children issue on ME agenda: https://meagenda.wordpress.com/category/lightning-process-smile-study/

Dr Esther Crawley: Transcript of Presentation: The Future of Research in CFS/ME

Dr Esther Crawley: Transcript of Presentation: “The Future of Research in CFS/ME”

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p5foE-3ay

May be reposted in full or in part, provided it is reposted unedited and a link to source is given. When linking to this post please provide the specific post URL.

The Tiny URL link for this post is: http://tinyurl.com/Crawley-Presentation-March-10

The WordPress Shortlink is: http://wp.me/p5foE-3ay

 

In March, this year, Dr Esther Crawley gave a presentation to a Dorset patient support group entitled “The Future of Research in CFS/ME” during which she also spoke on XMRV research and delivered some very controversial comment on the operation and findings of the Whittemore Peterson Institute (WPI).

It is understood that the presentation was attended by Annette Brooke (MP for Mid Dorset and North Poole) and Vice-Chair of the re-formed APPG on ME.

Below is an unofficial transcript that has been provided to me to supplement the partial transcript ( Dr Esther Crawley discusses XMRV and Whittemore Peterson Institute (WPI), March 2010 ) which was first published on ME agenda, in August.

Care has been taken in the preparation and proofreading of this text; some transcription errors and ommissions may remain.

 

Dorset CFS/ME Society
Annual Medical Lecture

27th March 2010

The Future of Research in CFS/ME

Esther Crawley

It’s a great pleasure to be here, everybody, and I’m really glad actually that my talk actually fits in very nicely with what William’s just said. Phew!

I’m going to be talking a lot about the collaborative research and the first half of my talk actually was given to the MRC Working Group at the end of last year. So you’ll actually see what we were talking about where the MRC gathered lots and lots of researchers together to discuss a way forward with chronic fatigue [sic] and I did the talk on epidemiology. Continue reading

RiME: Commentary on APPG on ME Inquiry into NHS Service Provision for ME/CFS, March 2010

RiME: Commentary on APPG on ME Inquiry into NHS Service Provision for ME/CFS, March 2010

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p5foE-39y

From Paul Davis RiME Campaigning for Research into Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

16 September 2010

APPG on ME Inquiry into NHS Service Provision for ME/CFS March 2010

There is a link to the full Report on the RiME Website, see NHS Services Inquiry folder.

The Report was signed by five members of the APPG on ME: Des Turner MP (Chair), Tony Wright MP, Andrew Stunell MP, Peter Luff MP, Lady Mar.

Note: The Committee on Standards in Public Life promotes, ‘high standards in the public sphere through the seven principles… ‘: they include: objectivity and honesty. Have these criteria been met?

Paul Davis paul641@talktalk.net   www.rime.me.uk

RiME Condemns APPG Inquiry Report

Problems re. Nomenclature and Classification

In the Foreward P.3 Des Turner writes, ‘… The APPG accepts the WHO Classification of ME (ICD G93.3) as a neurological condition… ‘ However, if one flicks to the back of the Report, 14 out of the 24 sources refer to Government Reports (1), with the Royal College of GP’s Report, connected to CMO Report and NICE Guidelines, being used seven times; sources which are not about the illness described by G93.3. The Inquiry Group also received evidence from PCTs: but ME patients complain that clinics set up following the CMO Report are not about ME; the clinics in Kent, for example, exclude patients with neurological illness; so, is the evidence from PCTs accurate or relevant as far as ME is concerned?

The Terms of Reference say (P. 21):

ME is classified as a neurological illness under the World Health Organisation classification (ICD G93.3). However the NHS largely uses the term Chronic Fatigue Syndrome instead of ME or else adopts the hybrid CFS/ME in diagnosing and treating patients. Terminology is a contentious matter. It has some bearing on this inquiry because to only use the precise WHO classification of ME above will impede access to information from the NHS that is crucial to the success of this inquiry…

Continue reading

MEA statements: Review of NICE guideline CG53 and PACE Trial results

MEA statements: Review of NICE guideline CG53 and PACE Trial results [and BACME (British Association of CFS/ME) 2010 Conference Programme]

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p5foE-35V

The British Association of CFS/ME (BACME) appears to have taken over some of the functions of the CFS/ME Clinical and Research Network and Collaborative (CCRNC). There is no website for BACME and very little information available about the role and operation of this organisation.

BACME is chaired by consultant paediatrician, Dr Esther Crawley (lead researcher, Lightning Process pilot study in children). Assistant Chair is Alison Wearden PhD, CPsychol (lead researcher, FINE Trial).

Related information from the News section of the ME Association website (which includes extracts from BACME’s Constitution for which I do not have access to a full copy):

Questions raised over training role of new body for ME/CFS professionals

‘Parliamentarians should examine role of new NHS training forum for ME/CFS’

1] ME Association statement: NICE Guideline on ME/CFS – 2010 review process (UK)

2] ME Association statement: PACE Trial results in October (UK)

ME Association statement: NICE Guideline on ME/CFS – 2010 review process (UK)

1 September 2010

Having been led to believe that the proposed review of the 2007 NICE guideline on ME/CFS would be starting in August 2010 The ME Association wrote to NICE to seek clarification in the absence of any official announcement being made during August.

We received the following reply on 24 August:

Thank you for contacting the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

The review date which you refer to is the date at which we plan to begin the review process. We are currently beginning to gather evidence and opinions to inform our review proposal. If there has been a large amount of new evidence produced since the original guidance was produced, the review proposal may be to conduct a full review, which can take over a year. On the other hand, if there has not been very much new evidence produced, we may propose to delay the review.

The review proposal will be posted on our website for consultation in the months following the ‘review date’ listed in the guidance. To be notified of additions to web pages relating to your area of interest, including review proposals, you may like to sign up for our web alert system. You can do this via the following page of our website:

http://www.nice.org.uk/registration/index.jsp?action=registration

I am sorry that I do not have any more definitive information at this stage.

Regards

Carla Springl

Communications Administrator (Enquiry Handling)
National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence

Level 1A | City Tower | Piccadilly Plaza | Manchester M1 4BD | United Kingdom

Web: http://nice.org.uk

We also know that members of the original guideline development group have been asked for their opinion as to whether there is sufficient new evidence to justify a review at this time.

The important phrase here is large amount of new evidence produced since the original guidance was produced.

In NICE-speak this means results from randomised controlled trials into any aspect of management that have been published in reputable peer-reviewed medical journals since August 2007. The NICE guideline is primarily concerned with the clinical assessment and management of ME/CFS and does not get involved in coming to conclusions about causation – although NICE obviously has to take note of developments relating to causation, including the findings relating to XMRV and MLVs.

Having managed to fight off a Judicial Review of the ME/CFS guideline, NICE will be feeling confident that its guidance is sound and acceptable to both patients and doctors – a position which many patient support organisations, including the MEA, obviously strongly disagree with. And with very little in the way of new evidence being published in relation to the treatment of ME/CFS, and the fact that results from the PACE trial are fast approaching, it seems likely that NICE may decide to defer this review until later in the year, or even 2011, when they have this information – which could well strengthen their controversial recommendations regarding cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) and graded exercise therapy (GET).

It should also be noted that NICE will not want to re-open the debate about existing evidence (ie results from clinical trials that were published up to the time of the 2007 guideline) – they want to look at new evidence.

The ME Association will obviously be challenging the current recommendations regarding the use of CBT and GET and to support out case we will be making use of the patient evidence (approx 4,500 respondents) from our 2010 Management Report – the largest ever survey of patient opinion ever carried out in the UK, probably in the world. This report can be accessed on-line here:

http://www.meassociation.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1283&Itemid=223

We are also consulting with various experts, including those with statistical knowledge, about how best to present our case to the review.

For information purposes the following explanation of how recommendations contained in a NICE guideline should be interpreted by clinicians when making decisions about patient management is worth noting. It clearly contradicts the mistaken view of some doctors that NICE guidelines are almost mandatory and as a result they are no longer able to exercise their clinical judgement where this is may not be entirely consistent with a guideline position.

NICE clinical guidelines are recommendations about the treatment and care of people with specific diseases and conditions in the NHS in England and Wales. Clinical guidelines represent the view of NICE, and are arrived at after careful consideration of the evidence available. Healthcare professionals are expected to take it fully into account when exercising their clinical judgement. However, the guidance does not override the individual responsibility of healthcare professionals to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual patient, in consultation with the patient and/or guardian or carer, and informed by the summary of product characteristics of any drugs they are considering.

Implementation of this guidance is the responsibility of local commissioners and/or providers. Commissioners and providers are reminded that it is their responsibility to implement the guidance, in their local context, in light of their duties to avoid unlawful discrimination and to have regard to promoting equality of opportunity. Nothing in this guidance should be interpreted in a way that would be inconsistent with compliance with those duties.

With regards to technology appraisal guidance, this type of guidance contains recommendations on the use of new and existing medicines and treatments within the NHS. The NHS is legally obliged to fund and resource medicines and treatments recommended by NICE’s technology appraisals, usually within 3 months of guidance being published.

ME Association
1 September 2010

http://www.meassociation.org.uk

ENDS

Ed: This BACME conference and AGM is being held in Milton Keynes on 13 and 14 October and is faciliated by AYME who have collaborated in CCRNC conferences.

Download PDFs for BACME Provisional Programme and Registration Form here:

BACME 2010 Conference Programme

BACME CFS ME CCRNC conference 2010 Registration Form

 

2] ME Association statement: PACE Trial results in October (UK)

3 September 2010

It is being reported today in Link magazine (issue 39, September 2010) that:

Data collected for the one year follow up of the PACE trial is currently being analysed in preparation for publication of the findings.

Professor Peter White of St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London will report on the most up-to-date progress and baseline data from the PACE trial to delegates at the British Association of CFS/ME (BACME) October conference.

The release of this PACE trial information may well have an effect on a decision by NICE as to when they commence a review of the 2007 Guideline on ME/CFS.

A statement and more information on the NICE Guideline review can be found in the September news section on the MEA website.

Information supplied by ME Association: http://www.meassociation.org.uk

ENDS

BACME CFS ME CCRNC conference 2010 Registration Form

BACME 2010 Conference Programme

Provisional Programme

British Association of CFS/ME (BACME)
2010 Conference

Draft Program – please note there may be changes before final program

Milton Keynes 13-14 October
Wednesday 13 October

9.30 -10.30  Registration and coffee

10.30-11.00  Opening Address:

Prof Stephen Holgate  MRC (Medical Research Council)  Clinical Professor of Immunopharmacology. 

“The time has at last arrived to strengthen research into CFS and ME”

11.00 – 12.00  Keynote Speaker: Professor Daniel J. Clauw MD Division of Rheumatology University Michigan

“Advances in Our Understanding of CFS and Overlapping Conditions”

12.00 – 1.30  Lunch Hot and Cold Buffett (preference to be booked)

1.30 -2.15  Dr Alison Wearden Reader in Psychology: FINE Trial

“Pragmatic rehabilitation for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME”

2.15 – 3.00  Judith Harding:
The Role of Diet Management in CFS/ME

3.00 – 3.30  Comfort Break

3.30 – 5.00  Uni – professional Networking Groups.
To be facilitated please contact maryjane@ayme.org.uk asp if you would like to request a specific group e.g physiotherapists, nurses, paediatricians

5.00 – 6.00  BACME AGM Chairperson: Gill Walsh
(for existing and new members)

7.30  Conference Dinner (to be pre-booked separately)

Thursday 14 October

9.00 Registration & Coffee

9.30 – 10.45  Workshop 1

10.45 – 11.15  Coffee & Comfort Break

11.15 – 12.30  Workshop 2

12.30 – 1.45
Lunch Hot and Cold Buffett (preference to be booked)

1.45 – 2.15  Poster Presentations – Organiser Gabrielle Murphy
Posters will be on display for the whole 2 days

2.15 – 2.45  Coffee & Comfort Break

2.45 – 3.30  Diane Cox & Heather Garry
Video Conferencing for delivery of CFS/ME Interventions at Home (Tele-rehabilitation)

3.30 – 4.30  Professor Peter White
St Bartholomew’s Hospital London

“PACE trial: so near yet so far”

(If outcome results are not yet published, Peter White will present the design, progress and baseline data from the trial)

4.30 – 5pm  Closing Address – To be announced

WORKSHOPS

1. Working with the Severely Affected – Leeds Service

2. Mindfullness and ME –The Mindfull Approach to Chronic Illnesses Steve Johnson, Director of the Breathworks Foundation

3. Review of Literature and Clinical Implications on Sleep (please note this is not a workshop) Gabrielle Murphy & Alex Westcombe

4. To Be Announced

5. Research workshop – How to do research successfully when you are a busy clinician – Professor Peter White

6. Group work – Michelle Selby and Helen Chub

 

Additional information on selected presenters:

Breathworks
http://breathworks-mindfulness.org.uk/the-breathworks-foundation.html

Gabrielle Murphy
Physician working in the Fatigue Service at the Royal Free Hospital and Clinical Lead. She also works in the Department of HIV medicine. Her interests include medically unexplained symptoms MUS). Also involved in local and national organisations promoting access to CFS/ME services and ongoing research.

Coping Better With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis: Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for CFS/ME
http://www.karnacbooks.com/Author.asp?AID=13770

Alex Westcombe
North Bristol NHS Clinical Psychologist
http://www.nbt.nhs.uk/services/criticalcare/painmanagement/who_is_who.htm

Michelle Selby
OT lead Dorset CFS Service (formerly “The Wareham Clinic”); Clinical Co-ordinator, Southampton CFS/ME Clinic
http://www.meactionuk.org.uk/RiME_CFSME_Centres_Condemned.html

Dr Helen Chubb
Senior Registrar, Whitchurch Hospital
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – personality and attributional style of patients in comparison to healthy controls and depressed individuals: Helen. L. Chubb; Irene Jones; Janice Hillier; Christopher Moyle; Stephanie Sadler; Tanya Cole; Kate Redman; Anne Farmer
DOI: 10.1080/09638239917274 Journal of Mental Health, Volume 8, Issue 4 August 1999 , pages 351 – 359
http://www.informaworld.com/index/T32L42TTQ9N74DN3.pdf

Dr Esther Crawley discusses XMRV and WPI, March 2010

Dr Esther Crawley discusses XMRV and Whittemore Peterson Institute (WPI), March 2010

Part transcript: Presentation to the Dorset CFS/ME Society Annual Medical Lecture: section on XMRV.

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p5foE-31g

XMRV: Whittemore Peterson Institute (WPI)  Opens on campus of University of Nevada (Parts 1 and 2)

Sam Shad for Nevada Newsmakers

Part 1

Part 2

 

Update: This transcript was revised on 20 August and supersedes previous versions.

May be reposted if posted in full, unedited and a link to source is given.

Dorset CFS/ME Society
Annual Medical Lecture

27th March 2010

The Future of Research in CFS/ME

Esther Crawley

Intro:

It’s a great pleasure to be here, everybody, and I’m really glad actually that my talk actually fits in very nicely with what William’s just said – Phew!

I’m going to be talking a lot about the collaborative research and the first half of my talk actually was given to the MRC Working Group at the end of last year. So you’ll actually see what we were talking about where the MRC gathered lots and lots of researchers together to discuss a way forward with chronic fatigue [sic] and I did the talk on Epidemiology.

[…]

[Slide]

I couldn’t resist talking about XMRV. I think we have to know about what’s actually happened and I will discuss that as well and what the implications are.

[…]

[Rest of intro and presentation skipped.]

Approx 27 mins in from start of presentation:

[Slide]

XMRV. OK, so in the next, last, remaining bit of the talk I want to summarise what’s happened about the XMRV story for you. I think it’s really important that we’re all informed about it.

Many of you will have woken up and read this story, in fact I knew about it 24 hours before it was about to break – “Has science found the cause of chronic fatigue syndrome?” – we’re all very excited and hopeful this might give us something we can treat. Great.

[Slide]

Don’t you think this is the most beautiful picture? That’s the XMRV virus. I don’t know how they get those colours on them – very beautiful.

Now this is the Centre that reported it. Do any of you notice anything about that picture? XXXX you’re not allowed to say.

Sorry?

Member of the audience: Sunshiny?

EC: Sunshiny, yeah. It’s in Reno, yeah, yeah. Anything else? It’s a bit far away.

Has anyone looked at the website? Isn’t that interesting? That doesn’t exist. That’s a fake picture – it’s what they would like to exist, when you donate money, when you go on the website. I thought everybody knew that! Yeah, sorry? This is Dorset.

OK. The Centre isn’t built. That’s their picture of what they would like to build and when you go on the website it has “Please donate.”

OK. What do the Lombardi group originally show?

[Slide]

OK. This is a complicated slide. I’m just going to take you through bit by bit because it’s really important when we look at all the research evidence.

OK. The gag sequences – the DNA that’s associated with these particular type of viruses – so they use PCR. PCR is basically when you get a tiny bit of DNA and you multiply and multiply and multiply and then you run it on a gel and see if it’s there. And what they found, and you’ll all remember these figures, I’m sure, is that they found it in 68 out of 100 [Ed: 101 on slide] chronic fatigue [sic] patients and 8 out of 218 controls.

They then looked in the cells and they found the protein in the cells and then they looked at whether it’s infectious. Now I have to say, this bit made me slightly worried – so they looked to see whether this virus could infect other cells within the lab and they showed that it’s infectious and they also looked at what happened if you put the virus with other cells in terms of did it develop an immune response?

[Slide]

And these are some of the pictures they showed. So when you multiply out the DNA, you then run it on a gel and you tag it with a thing that shines – I did my PhD doing this, I can tell you all sorts of awful stories of gels breaking and all sorts of other things going wrong. But these are the chronic fatigue [sic] patients – you see all these lines, here? That’s that gag sequence – here and here – that’s the end of the line and these are the controls.

Then they looked at the expression in cells and you could see it. And then they looked at the infection and this is the infection happening here.

Now this paper went out for review by virologists – not by clinicians and that’s a very important point and it was passed and it was published.

[Slide]

And this is what they said on their website and I think this is kind of interesting: “

“We have detected the retroviral infection XMRV is greater than 95%…”

Where did the 95% come from? Did anybody notice the 95%? Can anybody remember the percentage they found it in? Yeah, 66% [sic], slightly less.

OK. Says on the website “…95%…The current [working] hypothesis is that [XMRV]…” infects these cells…and I found this absolutely terrifying…viral chronic fatigue syndrome “causes the chronic inflammation and immune deficiency resulting in an inability to mount an effective immune response to opportunistic infections”.

OK. Have they shown any of that? Have they shown increased risk of opportunist infections? Have they shown a defect in the immune system that’s actually going to affect someone rather than just in a cell lab plate?

[Slide]

No. But that’s what’s on their website. That’s what they say they’ve found. So what happens? The research community runs to replicate the work.

[Slide]

OK. And you’ll all remember when this first paper came out “Failure to replicate…” – this is an English paper [Ed: the McClure PLoS ONE paper]. Well obviously this is wrong because they didn’t use the same techniques and it wasn’t the same patient group.

[Slide]

So in this particular experiment, they actually characterised the patients.

Now on the original paper, they say that the chronic fatigue [sic] patients were well-characterised but they do not describe them at all. We don’t know how many were girls – we don’t know how many…girls! – I’m such a paediatrician – we don’t know how many were female. We don’t know how long they had had the illness for. We don’t know who diagnosed them and we don’t know whether they had any blood tests to exclude other illnesses.

In this one, [Ed: the McClure paper], they actually had all the exclusion stuff excluded, they then used the DNA sequence. They had positive and negative controls. Why do you need positive and negative controls? Yes, so you’re worried that maybe when you do PCR it’ll pick up…you’ve all seen crime scenes, right? So PCR will pick up one bit of DNA, so if you’ve got a bit of DNA in your solution or something like that, you must have negative controls because you need to be certain that the DNA has come from the samples – not from your lab solutions.

Yes. OK. And you must have positive controls to make sure your experiments work.

They used a virus free laboratory. So they did it in a laboratory that had not had the virus in the past and they blinded the person doing the PCR. Does everyone know about “blinding”? So what they did, was that the person that was reading the gels didn’t know whether they were patients or not, because it’s really easy on those gels to over-interpret what you see.

OK and their results, you might all remember, they didn’t find any out of 186 patients – none of them had chronic fatigue [Ed: corrects herself] – XMRV.

[Slide]

And then a few days later, this one came out. This one had several people from England – Jonathan Kerr and so on. And they’re very open – they said, John Gow – these are all people that we’re collaborating with – they said we wanted to find chronic fatigue syndrome – we wanted to find the XMRV virus. We wanted to – we looked hard.

Now the criticism of the previous paper was that they hadn’t used the same techniques, so in this one they used the same techniques. They had 170 patients, 395 controls. You can already see the sample size is much bigger and they did both PCR and looked at the serology.

They found none in 299 samples of patients – had chronic fatigue [Ed: corrects herself] – had XMRV. And although they found what’s called “neutralising activity” they looked at this further and suggested that the immune response was actually related to other viruses and not to the XMRV.

[Slide]

And then this was published a couple of weeks later [Ed: BMJ paper] – from the Dutch group. Again, a very well described Dutch cohort – smaller, 76 patients 69 controls. And what they did, they actually went completely overboard with trying to find it. They used very, very sensitive techniques that should have detected – if any was there at all, they should have detected it – much more sensitive than the original paper and they looked at a variety of DNA and they tried several times to improve the sensitivity – all samples were negative for XMRV.

So what do you think’s going on?

Member of the audience: Publicity.

EC: Publicity…

….I have actually given a clue.

Member of the audience: Money?

EC: Sorry. Money…money…money…

Member of the audience: XXXX wants to tell us.

EC: OK, go on, XXXX…

EC’s young son (in front row): Did they all do it from one place?

[Slide]

EC: Ye…es! The first group – actually, the question is, was the first group chronic fatigue syndrome? And eventually, when they were asked, they told the research community that, this is in Lisbon, at the end of last year, that all the samples came from an outbreak of chronic fatigue syndrome in one village in Lake Tahoe.

And when you actually go and have a look at all the research data around that outbreak, everybody at that time thought it was a viral infection. And nobody could find the virus.

So most of us think that that was probably the issue – it was probably a viral outbreak that has certainly caused chronic fatigue syndrome but is not necessarily going to be relevant for us here in the UK.

[Slide]

It’s not clear about the PCR operator, the person that looks – it’s not clear from the paper, whether they were blinded. There might be issues about whether you work in a virus free lab, remember they showed that this was infectious.

And there’s a big question here [Ed: indicates on slide] – this XMRV virus was initially described with prostate cancer and the prostate research community has shown this in prostate cancer in two studies in the USA. These are different labs in different studies but no association in Europe.

So maybe this is a virus that’s important in America but not important in this country – it’s not clear.

And I think this is of interest. Within a week of their paper being published they produced a test for the XMRV virus at $650 a test. [Ed: Slide reads, at point 4: Conflict of interest?].

And if I was developing a test, I would declare that as a conflict of interest on the paper – “I’m developing a test for this.” Then people can make up their mind about whether it has affected the results. We don’t know, it wasn’t declared they’d produced a test.

[Slide]

Why are patients so upset?

OK, well I don’t know and you’ll probably be able to tell me more than I can tell. But I think when they first publicised this they went on everything, lots and lots of American television.

[Slide]

[Reads from slide]

“Vindication” they said, “This “[new] report has intrigued scientists, been seen as vindication by some parents [Ed: corrects herself] – patients and inspired hope for treatment.”

Well you know, the history of this condition is that patients have not been listened to, they’ve been dismissed, they’ve had a terrible time and if a virus comes along as a cause, that is going to be seen as a vindication – I can understand that.

And it’s very disappointing, isn’t it, the negative replications?

[Slide]

But I do think that there’s been other stuff that’s been going on that I have particular difficulties with. When I prepared this talk for an infectious diseases conference, I went through and I just got some quotes off the web from the research team.

[Slide]

Look at this:

[Reads from slide]

“Here you’ve got your immune system working well and the virus and the immune system are coexisting just fine and then some other bug, whether it be Lyme, a flu, anything gets you…and then you’ve just tipped the scale to where your immune system can’t handle [XMRV] or anything, and every day you’re seeing new infections.”

[Slide]

And then at one point, rumour has it (and I couldn’t find any evidence for this) that they started to suggest that patients with chronic fatigue syndrome should have anti-retrovirals, ie HIV drugs.

They’ve taken that back, and this is all I could find:

[Slide]

[Reads from slide quoting Dr Judy Mikovits; the “she says” refers to Dr Mikovits]:

“While it’s not advisable to take highly toxic anti-retrovirals [without tests confirming effectiveness], she says some available therapies may help, including: immune modulators; anti-inflammatories, because inflammation activates XMRV, things that improve natural killer cell function; medications that help [level progesterone levels, because progesterone up-regulates XMRV in lab tests]; avoiding stress.”

It appears – and this really upset me, OK. All of their studies are in adults. OK, all in adults. And then they say:

[Reads from slide]

“Early infection in children can lead to more severe disease later on.”

Early detection?

Oh, that’ll be that test that they produced for $605 [sic] a pop.

[Reads from slide]

“and intervention important to keep viral loads from getting high.”

I find that really frightening. If I had a child with chronic fatigue syndrome and I read that on the web, the first thing I’d do, I’d go and buy the test, and the second thing I’d be doing would be phoning an infectious disease doctor which is what’s happened and ask about anti-retrovirals for my child, having read that.

So I do feel as researchers, we do take some responsibility for saying “This is a first paper! Let’s wait and see what happens.”

You know, I think it’s really interesting, it look likes they did find something in a group of patients and we haven’t found it here. That’s really interesting and is deserving of more research. But let’s just say, it’s interesting at the moment, rather than all of this speculation, which I think can be very harmful for patients.

[Slide]

The future for infection

OK, I gather that this may well already have happened, not been published, the way forward in these things is to replicate the studies in both labs and try and look at why there are differences.

I think it may be important for a subtype of chronic fatigue syndrome.

I very much doubt it effects all of them, as they claim.

It doesn’t appear to be important in this country.

And there’s actually very beautiful research which we need to understand more, looking at the relationship between genetics, infection and other things like mood.

OK. After a whistle-stop tour of most research on chronic fatigue syndrome, this is now my summary slide – this is what I’ve talked about.

[Slide]

There are two arms for research in chronic fatigue syndrome and I don’t believe that one replaces the other. The funding for both arms is different in this country and they both need to be done together and both influence the other.

[Slide]

The first is important for providing services and treatment:

We need to know more about how common this is.

We need to understand who it affects.

And we need to know about the different types of chronic fatigue syndrome.

We need to understand how the different types influence treatment.

We need to know much, much more about the impact of this devastating condition on patients and carers.

The second one is that we need to know more about the aetiology, about the causes of this condition and in my view, the fastest way forward is to use the large, very large sample sizes that we have available in this country to conduct rigorous genome-wide association studies and I’m not so certain about the role of infection but I do think there is an interesting story with XMRV that we need to get to the bottom of.

And it just remains for me to thank my funders – I’m funded by the National Institute of Health Research and my Clinician Scientists Fellowship, the Linbury Trust, Action for M.E. and I’m the Medical Adviser for AYME.

[Slide]

And this is where I work.

Thank you very much.

——-

There was a Q and A session which included questions about the RNHRD NHS FT/University of Bristol Lightning Process pilot.

House of Commons Debate: Health: Lightning Process

House of Commons Debate: Oral Answers to Questions, Health: Lightning Process

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p5foE-30p 

Reports are coming in that NHS GPs and CFS service therapists are already recommending the untrialled and unregulated Lightning Process to patients. If your GP, hospital consultant or CFS clinic staff have recommended the Lightning Process to you or to a child or young person with ME or CFS I would be pleased to hear from you. 

Contact ME agenda via the Contact Form or E-mail Suzy Chapman in confidence.

On 10 February 2009, Ms Celia Barlow, former MP for Hove (Labour), asked the Minister of State, Department of Health (Phil Hope) what guidance the Department of Health has issued to NHS trusts on the use of the Lightning Process in the treatment of people diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome:

Hansard

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmhansrd/cm090210/debtext/90210-0002.htm#09021037000735 

10 Feb 2009 : Column 1235

House of Commons
Tuesday 10 February 2009

The House met at half-past Two o’clock
Prayers

[Mr. Speaker in the Chair]

Business before Questions

[…]

Oral Answers to Questions
Health
The Secretary of State was asked—

10 Feb 2009 : Column 1243

Lightning Process

8. Ms Celia Barlow (Hove) (Lab): What guidance his Department has issued to NHS trusts on the use of the lightning process in the treatment of people diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome. [255402]

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Phil Hope): The Department has issued no guidance on this process, because we expect decisions on clinical interventions, whether they involve complementary or alternative treatments, to be made by front-line clinicians. In making such decisions, clinicians will take into account evidence for the safety and clinical and cost-effectiveness of the treatment concerned.

Ms Barlow: I thank my hon. Friend for his reply. Sussex ME and Chronic Fatigue Society works tirelessly to assist the 6,000 adults and children across the county who suffer from the disease, and several of those people have been contacted about the success of the lightning treatment. Will he assess that treatment, in conjunction with the bodies that he has mentioned, and monitor how successful it is?

Phil Hope: It is not for the Department to undertake that activity. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, the independent body, issues guidance on the use of such treatments, and that guidance is the subject of a judicial review this week. It is to that independent body that those patients and organisations should make their representations, so that it can make the appropriate recommendations on the use of such treatments.

Mr. Graham Stuart (Beverley and Holderness) (Con): I agree with the Minister that treatments such as these should not be performed on the NHS until independent

10 Feb 2009 : Column 1249

medical evidence has been obtained to show their efficacy. Will he tell the House how much is spent by the NHS on chronic fatigue syndrome?

Phil Hope: I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman’s support for a way of working in the national health service that has widespread support on both sides of the House and throughout the country. I do not have the figures that he requests to hand, but I will write to him in due course.

 

National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE)

Chronic fatigue syndrome / Myalgic encephalomyelitis (or encephalopathy); diagnosis and management  (CG53)

Issued: August 2007   Expected review date: August 2010

http://guidance.nice.org.uk/CG53

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

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

For joint ME charity statement and press release see:

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

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.

Invest in ME: Letter to UK Secretary of State for Health (Blood donation)

Invest in ME: Letter to UK Secretary of State for Health (Blood donation)

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

Update @ 19 March 2010

House of Commons Written Answers: 16 March 2010

Hansard transcript

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Research

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether his Department has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated any research on a relationship between myalgic encephalomyelitis and blood-related disorders. [322011]

Gillian Merron: The Department has, to date, not commissioned or evaluated any research. However, others, such as the Medical Research Council, the Health Protection Agency and the UK Blood Services, are currently considering these issues. I refer the hon. Member to the written answer I gave him on 27 January 2010, Official Report, column 942W.

House of Commons Written Answers: 27 January 2010

Hansard transcript

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent representations he has received on making myalgic encephalomyelitis a notifiable illness for the purposes of blood donation. [313595]

27 Jan 2010 : Column 942W

Ann Keen: The Department has received 31 representations on making myalgic encephalomyelitis a notifiable illness in the last six months. There have also been a number of representations on this subject received by the Chief Medical Officer.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether his Department plans to (a) commission and (b) evaluate research on the possible health effects of receiving blood donated by a person with myalgic encephalomyelitis. [313596]

Ann Keen: The Department has no current plans to directly commission research on this issue. However, the Medical research Council has designated myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome a priority research area, and will fund proposals of sufficient quality. The UK Blood Services together with the Health Protection Agency are undertaking a study of the prevalence of a rodent virus recently linked to myalgic encephomyelitis, which will be used to inform a risk assessment.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether his Department plans to test patients for xenotropic murine leukaemia virus-related illnesses. [313607]

Ann Keen: There are currently no plans to test patients for xenotropic murine leukaemia virus-related virus.

House of Commons Written Answers: 10 March 2010

Hansard transcript

10 Mar 2010 : Column 350W

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Blood

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Health for what reasons people with myalgic encephalomyelitis may not donate blood. [321320]

Ann Keen: People with myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), also known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), are not able to donate blood until they have fully recovered. The reasons for this are: first, blood donors need to be in good health, and people with ME/CFS often experience a range of symptoms which could be made worse by donating blood; and second, as the causes of ME/CFS are not currently fully understood, people with the condition are deferred from donating blood as a precautionary measure to protect the safety of the blood supply for patients.

In response , Invest in ME has written to Rt Hon Andy Burnham MP, Secretary of State for Health:

Invest in ME

Letter to UK Secretary of State for Health

Recently Mrs Ann Keen, Under-Secretary of State for Health, commented that people with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis were not able to donate blood. Invest in ME have written the following letter to the Secretary of State for Health, Mr Andy Burnham.

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and Blood Donations

Rt Hon Andy Burnham MP

Secretary of State for Health

Department of Health

Richmond House

79 Whitehall

London SW1A 2NS

cc: Mrs Ann Keen MP

14th March 2010

Dear Mr. Burnham,

Recently Mrs Ann Keen (in her capacity as Under-Secretary of State for Health) made the following comments in relation to Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and blood donations –

“People with myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), also known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), are not able to donate blood until they have fully recovered.

The reasons for this are: first, blood donors need to be in good health, and people with ME/CFS often experience a range of symptoms which could be made worse by donating blood; and second, as the causes of ME/CFS are not currently fully understood, people with the condition are deferred from donating blood as a precautionary measure to protect the safety of the blood supply for patients.”

Mrs Keen’s comments are, we assume, representative of the government and your department.

Firstly it is good that your government recognises that people with ME are in poor health. This implies that all people with ME are therefore in need of proper healthcare provision which treats the disease properly.

Secondly it is good that you and your government recognise, by the implication from your statement, that blood supplies may be compromised by accepting people with ME as donors due to the organic nature of this disease.

Thirdly it follows that an embargo on people with ME donating blood would mean that there is an infectious agent at work which could be passed on via blood.

There follows several questions which lead on from this.

It seems to be crucial to use the most stringent diagnostic criteria available for diagnosing ME (which even NICE acknowledge as being the Canadian Consensus Criteria). Yet your department, NICE and the MRC do not standardise on this internationally accepted standard for diagnosis of ME.

When you state that people with ME are not able to donate blood are you employing the NICE guidelines for defining patients as having ME? If so then why does NICE proscribe serological testing unless there is an indicative history of infection? If no initial indication of infection is present then no further blood tests are performed and a patient may receive a diagnosis of ME based on ongoing fatigue and one other symptom such as sleep disturbance. Why then would those patients be excluded from donating blood?

As your government officially accepts ME as a neurological illness, as described by the World Health Organisation ICD-10 G93.3 code, and as the issue of blood contamination from an infectious agent demands the utmost care and attention, is it not of absolute necessity for your government to demand that a consistent set of up-to-date diagnostic criteria are used as standard by all organisations?

Your department often states that the Medical Research Council is an independent body. Yet as it is apparent that the MRC only funds psychiatric studies which presume that ME is a behavioural illness why does your department refuse to comment on the MRC’s usage of the Oxford criteria for research into ME which expressly excludes people with a neurological illness?

Why does your department not criticise the MRC for funding purely psychiatric research into ME if you fully recognise that ME is a disease of organic and infectious nature? Since when did a psychiatric illness prevent blood donations? Does this not clearly show the MRC policy of research into ME for the last generation to be completely flawed and a waste of precious funding and patients’ lives?

When you state that people with ME are not able to donate until fully recovered please can you define what “fully recovered” means?

Could you also provide a description of how a person with ME is defined as no longer having ME?

What biomedical tests are available to determine that a person with ME is “fully recovered”?

Could you inform of how and when clinicians perform such tests in order to ensure that a person is “fully recovered” from ME?

Bearing in mind the seriousness of a possible contamination of blood supplies from people with ME please could you indicate what measures are in place to ensure that doctors do enforce testing to ensure that people with ME are “fully recovered” and will not therefore donate blood?

If such a test exists then presumably people with ME who are not recovered are entitled to appropriate benefits due to incapacity and/or disability?

As relapses are common with people with ME please could you explain if there is any minimum period which a person with ME needs to be “recovered” to be able to donate blood?

Could you also provide information which your government has on the number of people with ME in this country, the proportion of patients who have had ME for longer than five years and how many people with ME have “fully recovered”?

With regard to your statement that “the causes of ME/CFS are not currently fully understood” is it not inherent on the Chief Medical officer of the UK to attend the 5th Invest in ME International ME/CFS Conference 2010 on 24th May in Westminster, as guest of Invest in ME?

As the foremost experts on ME in the world are presenting at the conference, along with the Whittemore-Peterson Institute – who have recently been involved in the discovery of the XMRV retro-virus which has possibly huge considerations for the blood supply of this country – would it not be sensible for anyone who is involved in healthcare and particularly in the treatment of people with ME to attend this event?

Should not the government of this country also be sending a representative to the conference given that contamination of the blood supply by people with ME may be occurring and that education about the disease needs to be a pre-requisite for anyone involved in healthcare provision for people with ME?

We would request that you provide a full and complete answer to every single one of the questions which we have asked in this letter and we look forward to your reply,

Yours Sincerely,

The Chairman and Trustees of Invest in ME

Invest in ME

Registered UK Charity Nr. 1114035

PO BOX 561, Eastleigh SO50 0GQ

Support ME Awareness – Invest in ME

Related material:

Donations and transfusions: Safety of the UK blood supply  13 February 2010

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