Category: NICE Judicial Review

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


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

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

House of Commons Debate: Health: Lightning Process

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


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:


10 Feb 2009 : Column 1235

House of Commons
Tuesday 10 February 2009

The House met at half-past Two o’clock

[Mr. Speaker in the Chair]

Business before Questions


Oral Answers to Questions
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

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

Invest in ME Decline BACME Invitation

Invest in ME Decline BACME Invitation


Invest in ME has issued a statement around its decision to decline an invitation to become a member of BACME (British Association for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis).

For Invest in ME’s position statement on the proposed Bath/Bristol pilot study to investigate how to recruit to a randomised controlled trial looking at the Phil Parker Lightning Process and specialist medical care in CFS/ME in children as young as eight, go here Invest in ME March 2010 Newsletter.


Invest in ME Decline BACME Invitation

Invest in ME recently received an invitation from the British Association for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (BACME) inviting us to apply to become an executive member of that organisation.

BACME is chaired by consultant paediatrician Dr Esther Crawley – who was recently awarded a grant to do a clinical trial on the Lightning process (funded with £164,000 from the Linbury Trust and the Ashden Trust) – a business which assumes that no matter what is causing an ME patient’s illness it will help cure a patient from them.

With cases of people with ME being made worse from this business the recent Norwegian film by Paal Winsents (“Make Me Well”) illustrates the danger of people with no medical training attempting to treat a neurological illness such as ME. A telling quote from a LP practitioner in that film says it all –

“…. It does not matter how it started. Sometimes people had a bacterial infection, sometimes people had a viral infection. It does not matter how it started. The Lightning Process works equally well”.

Such uninformed, non-clinical and dangerous statements being used by people promoting businesses without any medical training, at a time when the need for more funding for biomedical research into ME and the evidence to support that funding requirement is overwhelming, is symptomatic of the problems on a non-strategic, non-biomedical approach to diagnosing and treating people with ME. Meanwhile ME patients and their families have to witness this absurd waste of money.

Dr. Crawley’s views on ME aren’t those of Invest in ME’s and we have serious concerns about her position as chair of an organisation such as this.

The Assistant Chair of BACME is Alison Wearden, who is Reader in Psychology at the University of Manchester, Chair Elect of British Psychological Society’s Division of Health Psychology and Associate Editor of British Journal of Health Psychology and whose studies include “Illness cognitions and diabetes – how the beliefs which patients hold about their diabetes impact on their attempts to manage it, their adjustment and well-being”. Wearden was head of the FINE trials (click here) – a waste of taxpayers’ money which resulted in nothing of value for people with ME.

BACME has a constitution to which members have to sign up. In this constitution, which BACME requires its members to support, it includes the following-

2.2 Objectives

2.2.1 To champion evidence-based approaches to the treatment of CFS/ME, such as those provided in the NICE guidelines

2.2.4 To support the delivery of services and to enable services to maintain standards of care in the treatment of CFS/ME as set out in the NICE guidelines

4. The Executive

4.1.4 The BACME Executive will invite no more than four people drawn from National UK CFS/ME organisations which explicitly support the aims and constitution of the organisation to sit on the Executive committee as either observers or members

Invest in ME rejected the NICE Guidelines and therefore cannot agree to endorse a constitution which lists among other things the above objectives.

Invest in ME endorse the critique set out by Twisk FNM, Maes M. in their review of CBT/GET in which they state

“So, it can be concluded that the efficacy claim for CBT/GET is false. But what is more important, is the fact that numerous studies support the thesis that exertion, and thus GET, can physically harm the majority of the ME/CFS patients.

This assertion is confirmed by the outcomes of two large patient surveys in the UK and Norway, and two smaller surveys in Scotland and the Netherlands.”

(A review on Cognitive Behavorial Therapy (CBT) and Graded Exercise Therapy (GET) in Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME)/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS): CBT/GET is not only ineffective and not evidence based, but also potentially harmful for many patients with ME/CFS. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2009 Aug 26;30(3):284-299.) click here

The NICE guidelines need complete revision* as their current version is far from evidence-based.

The NICE guidelines have been shown to be ineffectual, biased, unusable, with ME patients eventually taking NICE to a judicial review.

For an organisation to support NICE, and require members to abide by them, let alone “champion” them illustrates a flawed and damaging basis for any claim to represent people with ME and their families. Such an organisation is likely to continue to force a continuing approach of going round in circles, obfuscating the true requirements for ME patients and achieving little of real value for people with ME and their families.

With BACME maintaining its present structure, current chairman and constitution then Invest in ME will decline any offer to apply for membership of this organisation.

It would be unethical of Invest in ME to sign up to such a constitution and Invest in ME’s aim remains to find ways other than those set out in the NICE guidelines to treat patients diagnosed with ME according to the Canadian Clinical Consensus guidelines.

Further Reading: (links provided by Invest in ME)

Magical Medicine: How to Make a Disease Disappear – click here

Lightning Process – The Falsehood of Magical Medicine – IiME Newsletter March 2010 – click here

Can the MRC PACE Trial be justified? – click here

Wessely’s Way: Rhetoric or reason? – click here

Invest in ME – Communications with the UK Chief Medical Officer – click here

Documented involvement of viruses in ME/CFS: M Williams 30 December 09

Documented involvement of viruses in ME/CFS by Margaret Williams

One of a series – see notice below


Full text here in MS Word format: Documented involvement of viruses in ME 30.12.09

and at:

Documented involvement of viruses in ME/CFS

by Margaret Williams

30 December 2009

For decades it has been known and shown that viruses play a role in ME/CFS. Now there is evidence of a direct association with a gamma retrovirus – XMRV – that disables the immune system in ME/CFS, thus allowing numerous latent viruses to re-activate, which could result in the protean symptomatology…


Magical Medicine: How to make a disease disappear – Hooper and Williams – Spring 2010

Prior to the publication of the MRC PACE Trial results in the Spring of 2010, Professor Malcolm Hooper and Margaret Williams will be releasing a series of linked documents addressing central flaws in the PACE Trial.

These documents form part of a more substantial document that has the provisional title

Magical Medicine: How to make a disease disappear

This document has a dedicated web page at:

This web page will contain an easily accessible Contents page so that people can surf and then select whatever section (or part of a section) they may wish to look at.

Although he and Margaret Williams have previously addressed some of the issues contained in the substantial document, Professor Hooper thinks it essential for there to be a single, comprehensive narrative of events and information leading up to and involving the PACE Trial.

Magical Medicine: How to make a disease disappear

Professor Malcolm Hooper and Margaret Williams

Spring 2010

Documents already published that form part of the larger PACE Response document:-

1. Interstitial cystitis and CFS (26th August 2009)

2. More evidence of inflammation in ME/CFS (14th November 2009)

3. The role of viruses in ME/CFS // XMRV (21st November 2009)

4. The MRC’s secret files on ME/CFS (10th December 2009)

5. Statements of concern about CBT/GET for the Judicial Review (12th December 2009)

6. Can the MRC PACE Trial be justified? (17th December 2009)

and now this latest one:

7. Documented involvement of viruses in ME/CFS (30th December 2009)

Statements of Concern about CBT/GET provided for the High Court Judicial Review of February 2009 M Williams


Statements of Concern about CBT/GET provided for the High Court Judicial Review of February 2009

Open PDF MS Word document: Statements of Concern for High Court

Margaret Williams

12 December 2009

This material has been remove by the editor of ME agenda since it contains references to ongoing formal complaints lodged by the Claimants “against their own former solicitors and barrister; initially, both Leigh Day & Co and the Head of Chambers at One Crown Office Row” and a complaint to the Bar Council Standards Board.

Action for M.E. and Facebook; CISSD Final Report finally published

Action for M.E. and Facebook; CISSD Final Report finally published

WordPress Shortlink:

Action for M.E. maintains a Facebook site at:

Over the past few weeks, questions and criticism around Action for M.E.’s governance, the way in which it relates to its membership, its policies and operation and its relationship with government have been raised by various users on its Facebook “Wall”.

Action for M.E. has chosen not to respond to these questions individually, on the Wall, itself, but by issuing a set of responses in a PDF document. The first document was this one: Facebook responses 20.10.09

A second, updated, set of responses was issued yesterday. It’s not clear whether these responses have been compiled by Action for M.E.’s new Policy Manager or by another member of staff, as the document is unsigned, but it’s interesting to see how the organisation has fielded these questions and concerns.

[To clarify – none of the questions for which responses were provided had been raised by me. I prefer to liaise directly with organisations for information, documents or for policy and position statements or, where applicable, obtain information via the Freedom of Information Act.]

Action for M.E. is becoming rather discomforted that its Facebook site is being used by some as a vehicle for raising political issues but you cannot take the politics out of ME. Users are already asking how the organisation intends to define “political”.

Those of us who were members, in 2003, of the joint charities’ message board “MEssage-UK” will recall how rapidly first Action for M.E., then AYME pulled out of this venture when faced with too many awkward questions; how the message board was then set for pre-moderation by the ME Association; how the moderator, Tony Britton, vetoed posts of a “political nature” without ever setting out how he was going to define what came under the heading of “political” and what did not; how the archives were sifted through for “contentious” messages by senior ME Association staff and then quietly excised without the authors being informed; how the board was closed down suddenly just days before the critical December 03 AGM in which Dr Shepherd was standing as a candidate in the Trustee elections…

When will our patient organisations learn that if they are going to place themselves on public platforms they first need to develop policies for the fielding of questions?

This latest set of responses can be opened in PDF format here:

PDF file: ONGOING FB Q and A document. 29.10.09

Answers to questions raised on the Action for M.E. facebook page, October 2009. Updated

or from Action for M.E’s website, here:


One of the responses is for a question raised (note, not by me) around the CISSD Project, for which Action for M.E. had acted as principal administrators throughout the project’s life (2003 to 2007).

In response to this question, on Page 23:

Question: “What was your involvement in the CISSD project Conceptual Issues in Somatoform and Similar Disorders for which you received a grant of 67k and why was this project kept so secretive from your members? Only information about it was released when freedom of information act requests were made that pushed you in to a corner where you had to confirm you were involved in it. Was this CISSD project set up with the purpose as suggested by other sources with the intent to look at changing the ME/CFS ICD-10 coding* to that of a Somatoform disorder?”

Action for M.E prefaces its reply with, “As a charity, Action for M.E. is not obliged to answer questions under the Freedom of Information Act but provides information of its free will, as resources allow.”

I should like to clarify that the Freedom of Information requests submitted by me in relation to the CISSD Project had been submitted to the Institute of Psychiatry. Information resulting out of these requests under the FOIA is available here:

One of my requests to the Institute of Psychiatry had been for a copy of the December 2007 “CISSD Final Report” from Dr Richard Sykes to Action for M.E. I had suggested to the Institute of Psychiatry’s Legal Compliance Office that the report ought to be provided with a erratum note, by Dr Sykes, addressing a number of errors he had made in the document that had come to light in June 09, when an unauthorised copy of the text had been placed in the public domain.

Unfortunately, what the Institute of Psychiatry were provided with by Dr Sykes, in order to fulfil the request, is evidently an earlier draft of the December 2007 text. It is missing the Contents page, and there are other disparities between the text that I was provided with and the Final version. No erratum note had been attached, either.

However, as part of its response to the Facebook question, Action for M.E. has now elected to publish two files. The first is a copy of the December 2007 CISSD “Final Report” to Action for M.E., the second, a copy of the “Co-ordinator’s Report”, with a covering letter and summary.

Action for M.E. has finally put these documents in the public domain!

Open PDF files here:

CISSD project report 1

The CISSD Project and CFS/ME Report on the CISSD Project for Action for ME 

Conceptual Issues in Somatoform and Similar Disorders

Report to be read in conjunction with Co-ordinator’s Final Report

Richard Sykes December 2007

CISSD project report 2

Covering letter

The CISSD Project 2003-2007

(Conceptual Issues in Somatoform and Similar Disorders)



or from Action for M.E’s website, here:


In August, Action for M.E. had published an article titled “Classification conundrum” on pages 16 and 17 of Issue 69 of its membership magazine, InterAction.

You can read a copy of the article here, in an ME agenda posting dated 25 August 2009:

“Action for M.E. stuffs the elephant back into the cupboard”

Note that although the Project had been initiated by Dr Richard Sykes, Dr Sykes does not appear to have contributed to this article – basically an apologia piece authored by Dr Derek Pheby.

In fact, Dr Sykes and his role as instigator and co-ordinator of the Project is not mentioned in the article at all. Nor is the Project’s source of funding – the charitable Trust run by Dr Sykes’ brother, Sir Hugh Sykes, a non-executive director of A4e, the largest European provider of Welfare to Work programmes. 

The December 2007 “Final Report” document has historical significance.  It also contains material (including an entire Appendix) which was omitted from the “CISSD Summary Report” that the ME Association published in June, this year, having negotiated with Dr Sykes for an article. (But having trumped Action for M.E., the MEA has made no comment whatsoever on the implications of the CISSD Project nor provided its membership with an analysis of the various papers and documents that came out of it.  Nor has the MEA made any comment or published any information on the progress of the ICD-10 and DSM revision processes for which the CISSD Project was initiated and has fed into.)

The document sets out Dr Sykes’ views, opinions and perceptions (and misperceptions) that had not previously been publicly available. It would have been appropriate for Action for M.E. to have negotiated with Dr Sykes for this document to have been published in 2007.  Instead, it kept the lid on this project –  a project that had been chaired by Professors Michael Sharpe and Kurt Kroenke and had involved many influential, international researchers and clinicians from the field of liaison psychiatry and psychosomatics – several of whom are now directly involved in the revision of the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-IV.

In August, I called publicly on Action for M.E. to publish a copy of the CISSD “Final Report” on its website and to preface it with an erratum note addressing both the errors of coding within “Appendix B” of the document and also Dr Sykes’ misconception that “Chronic fatigue syndrome” does not appear in ICD-10.

Chronic fatigue syndrome is listed in the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems: 10th Revision Version for 2006, Volume 3, the Alphabetical Index (ICD-10 Volume 3).

For the entry in question, see page 528, top right hand column:

Since no erratum note has been published with these documents please be aware that where Dr Sykes has written “G33.3” and “G33.4” on Pages 12 and 13 of document:

this should read “G93.3” and “G93.4”.

Why has Action for M.E. published these documents without negotiating with Dr Sykes for an Erratum?

Why did Action for M.E. not publish these documents in August to accompany the article in InterAction?


*There is no coding for “ME/CFS” in ICD-10. 
Postviral fatigue syndrome is classified in Chapter VI of ICD-10 Volume 1: The Tabular List at G93.3.
(Benign) myalgic encephalomyelitis is classified in Chapter VI of ICD-10 Volume 1: The Tabular List at G93.3.
Chronic fatigue syndrome is listed in ICD-10 Volume 3: The Alphabetical Index under G93.3.


Text version of December 2007 CISSD “Final Report” here: CISSD Final Report to AfME 2007

Text version of December 2007 CISSD “Co-ordinator’s Report” here: CISSD PROJECT Coordinators Final Report

June 2009 Summary Report on CISSD as published by the ME Association

The Editorial: The proposed diagnosis of somatic symptom disorders in DSM-V to replace somatoform disorders in DSM-IV – a preliminary report by DSM-V Work Group members, Joel Dimsdale and Francis Creed was published in the June issue of the Journal of Psychosomatic Research:

Free access to both text and PDF versions of this Editorial at:

For detailed information on the proposed structure of ICD-11, the Content Model and operation of iCAT, the collaborative authoring platform through which the WHO will be revising ICD-10, please scrutinise key documents on the ICD-11 Revision Google site:

For information around the DSM and ICD revision processes see DSM-V and ICD-11 Directory page:

Dr Nigel Speight resigns from children and young person’s organisation AYME

Dr Nigel Speight resigns from the children and young person’s organisation AYME

For many years, paediatric specialist, Dr Nigel Speight, has been a champion of families with a child or young person with ME or where ME is suspected. 

He has advocated for families facing wrongful accusation of MSpB (FII), where child protection orders have been instigated or threatened following disagreements between the family and the child’s medical professionals over the management of the condition, where medical professionals have been unwilling to make a diagnosis of ME and where social services have become involved in the case when a child or young person has been unable to regularly attend mainstream school due to ill health.

Dr Speight recently announced his resignation as a Patron to the children and young person’s patient organisation, AYME [Association of Young People with ME]

AYME’s Medical Advisor is Dr Esther Crawley, Consultant Paediatrician at the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases NHS Foundation Trust. Dr Crawley had been a member of the NICE CFS/ME Guideline Development Group. 

Dr Speight, who is now retired from the NHS, has become a Medical Advisor to the 25% M.E. Group.

The following announcement was published in a recent 25% M.E. Group newsletter:

I just thought I should inform you officially that after a long and happy association with AYME I have decided to resign as their Patron. Without going into too much detail I would say that over the last couple of years I have become aware that they have changed their position on several areas and that our views have accordingly diverged. In particular AYME seem to have become more willing to collaborate with the medical and psychiatric establishment in order to appear respectable. This appears to have been the cause of AYME’s relative enthusiasm for the NICE Guidelines, which most of us feel involve an overemphasis on CBT and GET. This compromise seems to have helped the psychiatrists to get a new lease of life.

The result of all this is that AYME appear to have alienated themselves from most of the other ME charities (with the exception of AfME [Action for M.E.] who appear to be taking a similar position). In this controversy I feel more in sympathy with the rest of you. I have gained the impression that AYME no longer appreciate my opinions and prefer my status as their figurehead to be a largely silent one. It is a combination of all these factors that has caused me to resign and I am sure you will all understand.

With Best Wishes

Nigel Speight

Concerning a recent statement and report published in the wake of the Judicial Review of the NICE Guidelines on CFS/ME

Concerning a recent statement and report published in the wake of the Judicial Review of the NICE Guidelines on CFS/ME

1 August 2009

In the past two days, various material has been published on the internet in relation to matters arising out of the Judicial Review of the NICE Guidelines on CFS/ME which was heard in the High Court in February, this year. 

This includes a statement issued on behalf of Professor Malcolm Hooper and Margaret Williams.

The statement discloses that in April 2009 a “substantial complaint” was served on the legal representatives for the Fraser/Short legal challenge – a complaint said to be currently before the Legal Complaints Service and the Bar Council Standards Board and the subject of on-going action.

The Statement from Professor Malcolm Hooper has been published by Stephen Ralph, on Professor Hooper’s behalf, on Co-Cure and on ME Action UK site and is dated 29 July 2009.  A second statement issued by Professor Hooper was published on 5 August.

On 30 July, Jane Bryant, Director of the ONE CLICK Group and the Interested Party’s Litigant Friend in the Judicial Review, published a report and commentary on the ONE CLICK Group site. Selected court documents were also placed in the public domain on 30 July which form an integral part of the report and which need to be read in conjunction with this report.

The report reveals that following the Judicial Review hearing, Beachcroft LLP, the solicitors acting for NICE, submitted a Wasted Costs Application which was granted by the High Court and that in June 2009, Leigh Day & Co were served with a Wasted Costs Order of £50,000, payable to the Defendants, NICE.

As some of the issues set out and discussed within the statements, the report and associated court documents relate to the “substantial complaint” and “on-going action” against the legal representatives who had acted for the Claimants, Mr Douglas Fraser and Mr Kevin Short, I am not intending to publish the statements from Professor Malcolm Hooper of 29 July and 5 August, nor the report and commentary by Jane Bryant of 30 July.

I refer readers, instead, to the respective websites of those who have published this material.

The statement appended has been published elsewhere, today, by two individuals who were not involved in either the case for the Defendants or that of the Claimants and the Interested Party, but who wish to clarify their respective positions, in the light of recent events. 

Previous postings around the NICE CFS/ME Judicial Review are archived under Category tag NICE Judicial Review 

COURT JUDGMENT Document for hearing 11 and 12 February 2009 in PDF format here:   Approved NICE Judgment  [1.3MB]


NICE statement on CFS/ME judicial review outcome

or open PDF here:   cfsmejrjudgementstatement130309

The Expected Review Date for NICE G53 is currently given as August 2010.


For BMJ Rapid Responses to NICE related articles and Letters


for Rapid Responses to:

Pauline Savigny, Paul Watson, Martin Underwood on behalf of the Guideline Development Group
Early management of persistent non-specific low back pain: summary of NICE guidance

(Tom Kindlon, Information Officer, Irish ME/CFS Association)


for Rapid Responses to:

Michael Rawlins and Peter Littlejohns
NICE outraged by ousting of pain society president

(Tom Kindlon, Information Officer, Irish ME/CFS Association; Dr Ellen Goudsmit)


Permission to repost 


In light of recent events and suggestions made elsewhere about both of us, we would like to clarify, collectively, the following:

In 2005, Stephanie, after receiving a ‘CFS/ME’ diagnosis in 2001/2002, was subsequently given a ‘borreliosis’ diagnosis, following test results. As anyone with any knowledge of the problems facing people diagnosed with ‘CFS/ME’, or ‘Lyme’, or ‘borreliosis’ will understand, the political situation is not as simple as being diagnosed with one or another. A useful account, for the layperson, of the rank confusion and contestation surrounding ‘Lyme’, ‘borreliosis’ and ‘CFS’ diagnoses is given in Pamela Weintraub’s book “Cure Unknown: Inside the Lyme Epidemic”, with a foreword by Hilary Johnson, author of “Osler`s Web”. It should be noted that many people, initially diagnosed with ‘CFS/ME’, have subsequently received a diagnosis of ‘borreliosis’ or ‘Lyme’, or other condition or disease.

Stephanie remains severely physiologically impaired by her condition, though there have been small improvements due to certain treatments and a proper diagnosis of a cardiac/neurological condition. We would both like to go on record and say, specifically, that none of this improvement has been as a result of NHS policy or ‘care’. Our collective position remains that the NICE guidelines are inappropriate and dangerous.

In 2007, Stephanie attempted to bring, independently from any other party, a Judicial Review against NICE in respect of their Guidelines for ‘CFS/ME’. Because of the other, apparently partially funded, cases being brought at the same time, Stephanie could not secure Legal Aid and therefore unfortunately could not proceed. Situations such as these are apparently quite common and neither of us hold anyone ‘responsible’ for Stephanie’s failure to secure Legal Aid.

Another clarification we need to make is that we had no knowledge of the Short/Fraser case until it was first announced publicly, although it is clear they had knowledge of Stephanie’s case as her solicitors were mentioned by Professor Malcolm Hooper in his statement. Although we kept the One Click group informed of Stephanie’s intention to bring a JR action, we were not given any information by them, and therefore had no knowledge of the One Click JR case apart from that made public by them.

We are both keen to see accuracy prevail, because we believe there are important advocacy lessons that might be learned from a careful analysis of what has happened. For this reason we may have cause to clarify any further issues raise by public comments made by supporters of the Short/Fraser or the One Click JR action.

Due to family problems at the time, Angela was unable to continue campaigning with the One Click Group. Since April 2006, the trajectory of campaigning that One Click has subsequently taken is therefore not that of Angela’s own, although Angela is aware that some of her work was used by One Click in the response to the NICE guidelines (for example, her “Summary of the Psychiatric Paradigm of ME/CFS” document), subsequent to her having discontinued her association with them. Angela has no problem with her previous work on either NICE or the psychiatric paradigm being used by other advocates, and is happy that this work has been of use to people.

Since leaving One Click in 2006, Angela continues to work in advocacy for people suffering because of ‘psychogenic’ explanations for their illness. For example, she co-initiated a campaign to ensure the APPG on ME were made fully aware of the objections many in the ME/CFS community have to the ‘psycho-social’ approach adopted by most of the ‘CFS/ME’ clinics. This was done in support of other advocates who had been highlighting this problem. In 2008 she, with another advocate, tackled the ongoing misrepresentation of the ME/CFS community that was taking place on Wikipedia, an unfortunate result of unsubstantiated allegations, made in the Gibson Report, about members of the ‘CFS/ME’ community ‘harassing’ a Professor. As a result of their attempts to protect the ME/CFS community from such unsubstantiated allegations being incorporated into the Wikipedia article on Simon Wessely, Angela was herself defamed on Wikipedia, and, falsely implicated as being involved in “personally harassing” Professor Wessely. More information on this subject can be found here in the public-archived dedicated Yahoo Group APK-Papers.

Angela continues to advocate for people adversely affected by the scientific and logical flaws in ‘psychogenic’ explanations for illness. She is currently working on an academic project which she hopes will benefit the ME/CFS, Lyme and other patient communities, a project supported by Stephanie. Both continue to support the work of other patient advocates whenever possible.

We both hope that the above clarifies our respective positions.


1 August 2009

Documented pathology seen in ME/CFS that contra-indicates the use of GET: Margaret Williams 23 July 2009

Documented pathology seen in ME/CFS that contra-indicates the use of Graded Exercise Therapy

by Margaret Williams

23 July 2009

This document together with previous articles and commentaries by Margaret Williams can be found at ME Action UK

The evidence-base of pathology that has been demonstrated in ME/CFS appears within a larger document that is already in the public domain, but is now provided as a 9 page separate item for ease of access.

The UK ME/CFS community may not yet be fully aware of the content of Dr Esther Crawley’s presentation on 8th July 2009 to the Countess of Mar’s “Forward-ME” group meeting held at the House of Lords. The Minutes of that meeting and Dr Crawley’s power-point presentation are accessible at

Of particular note are the following points made by Dr Crawley:

· The CCRNC (CFS/ME Clinical and Research Network and Collaboration, of which she is Chair) is a “multidisciplinary organisation which exists to promote and support the delivery of evidenced based treatment for children, young people and adults with CFS/ME throughout the UK” whose objective is “To champion evidence-based approaches to the treatment of CFS/ME, such as those provided in the NICE guidelines” and which will use “clinical expertise to inform healthcare policy” and will “provide training for clinicians and researchers from all disciplines involved in the diagnosis and treatment of CFS/ME”.

· The CCRNC has an “Active training programme” and has “the ability to provide national training programmes”.

· The CCRNC will “invite no more than four people drawn from National UK CFS/ME organisations which explicitly support the aims and constitution of the organisation to sit on the Executive committee as either observers or members”.

· Its research strength is that it has the “Largest cohort in the world”.

· Its strengths are “working together — 600 clinicians and researchers, MRC, NIHR (National Institute for Health Research), Welcome (sic), patient and carer reps, charity membership”.

It is particularly notable that the Minutes record that when asked by Dr Charles Shepherd “whether, in the light of the widespread opposition to the NICE Guidelines, charities that were opposed to them would be invited to become members or associates of the CCRNC executive”, Dr Crawley’s response was: “In order to join the collaborative, charities would be expected to sign up to the evidence-based approach”.

The only possible interpretation of this is that patients’ charities are welcome to participate provided that they accept the behavioural modification interventions of CBT/GET recommended in the NICE Guideline (for which Dr Crawley was a member of the Guideline Development Group).

This would seem to be something akin to medical totalitarianism, especially given that Wessely School “evidence-base” upon which the NICE Guideline is predicated has been so stringently criticised by international ME/CFS experts.

See, for example:

It is worth recalling that at the Royal Society of Medicine meeting on “Medicine and me: ME and CFS” held just three days later on 11th July 2009, MRC Professor of Clinical Immunopharmacology Stephen Holgate said that at the MRC, referees tend to reinforce the status quo and that he was not sure if his wish for an MRC inter-disciplinary group involving immunologists, neurologists and infectious diseases physicians would happen, which would seem to indicate that the psychiatrists’ stranglehold on MRC funding for biomedical research into ME/CFS is set to continue.

The Forward-ME Minutes also record that Dr Crawley said: “the reputation the CFS/ME charities had for infighting was not particularly helpful and prevented research and clinical involvement”.

Given that the “infighting” may have arisen because of the polarised views about the nature of ME/CFS, with the Government-funded charities (Action for ME and The Association of Young People with ME, to the latter of which Dr Crawley is Medical Advisor) supporting the NICE Guideline that is underpinned by flawed research, whilst other charities base their stance on the international evidence that shows the NICE Guideline to be seriously misinformed, it may be timely to look again at the following “evidence-base”.

Dr. Crawley stated that only those ME/CFS charities which agree to “sign up to the evidence based approach” are to be permitted to join her “collaborative”.

Given the volume of biomedical evidence that does not support Graded Exercise Therapy it would appear that in this instance signing up to an “evidence based approach” involves signing up to an approach that ignores most of the evidence.

Science is not furthered by a self-reinforcing “collaborative” determined to exclude dissenting voices; rather, a vigorous and honest dialectic is required. Medicine has no place for cabals and the lazy thinking they foster.

The “Forward-ME” Minutes record that Lady Mar said she hoped that Dr Crawley would “agree to continue to work with Forward-ME”; one can only wonder, sadly, just how far backwards her “Forward-ME” initiative will carry the UK ME/CFS community.

Evidence-based research showing pathology that contra-indicates the use of graded exercise in ME/CFS

There is an extensive literature from 1956 to date on the significant pathology that has been repeatedly demonstrated in ME/CFS, but not in “CFS/ME” or “chronic fatigue”; this can be accessed on the ME Research UK website at  and also at  

According to Professor Nancy Klimas, ME/CFS can be as severe as congestive heart failure and the most important symptom of all is post-exertional relapse (presentation at the ME Research UK International Conference held in Cambridge in May 2008). Continue reading “Documented pathology seen in ME/CFS that contra-indicates the use of GET: Margaret Williams 23 July 2009”

Statements of Concern about CBT and GET provided for JR: Margaret Williams 22 July 2009

Statements of Concern about Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Graded Exercise Therapy provided for the High Court Judicial Review of February 2009

by Margaret Williams

22 July 2009

This document together with previous articles and commentaries by Margaret Williams can be found at ME Action UK

Over twenty renowned ME/CFS experts provided Statements in support of the Judicial Review of the NICE Guideline on “CFS/ME” heard in February 2009 in the High Court in London. They were specifically written in support of the challenge to the NICE Clinical Guideline on “CFS/ME” and they express concern about the recommendation by NICE that the only management of ME/CFS should be CBT and GET (the same interventions that are the subjects of the Medical Research Council’s PACE Trial).

None of the Statements was accorded the recognition that they merit.

Extracts from those Statements (some of which were of considerable length) are now being placed in the public domain in the interests of ME/CFS sufferers and those who support and care for them.

· “In my view, the Guideline is biased and over rigid in its recommendations and will put a large number of ME sufferers at risk of harm through its strong recommendations for the use of CBT and GET. CBT is based on the idea that somatoform disorders are maintained by abnormal or unhelpful illness beliefs which lead to abnormal or unhelpful behaviour. The first requirement for a somatoform diagnosis is that there be no physical cause for the symptoms. This is not the case in ME/CFS” (Malcolm Hooper, Professor Emeritus of Medicinal Chemistry, University of Sunderland, November 2007)

· “Two forms of treatment…are CBT and GET. CBT is a psychological treatment. Its application in what is certainly an organic disorder is basically irrational. Its putative mode of action is based on the proposition that patients with ME/CFS feel unwell because they have an ‘abnormal illness belief’, and that this can be changed with CBT. It has never been proven to be helpful in the majority of patients with ME/CFS. GET comprises a regime of graded exercise, increasing incrementally over time. It has been almost universally condemned by most patient groups. A number of patient surveys have shown it to be, at best, unhelpful, and at worst, very damaging. Its application is counter-intuitive, particularly when one of the most debilitating and well recognised symptoms of ME/CFS is post-exertional malaise which can put some patients in bed for days after relatively trivial exertion” (Dr William Weir, Consultant Physician, November 2007)

· “The GDG has placed undue reliance upon a small number of RCTs that were methodologically flawed because they did not adequately define the patient population” (Dr Terry Mitchell, formerly Consultant Clinical Lead (CNCC) of the Norfolk, Suffolk & Cambridgeshire NHS ME/CFS Service, 23rd June 2008)

· “The predominance of psychologists / psychiatrists on the GDG is entirely inappropriate and has led to a biased analysis in my opinion. The GDG has placed undue emphasis on a few UK clinical trials which support the use of psychological treatments, however, these studies did not properly or adequately define their patient population” (Dr Jonathan Kerr, Hon. Consultant in Microbiology; Consultant Senior Lecturer in Inflammation; Principal Investigator of the CFS Group, St George’s University of London, 11th August 2008)

· “You will see from my attached treatise that I consider that the recommendation of CBT and GET as blanket treatments of ‘clinically excellent’ first choice is extremely dangerous to patients. I am concerned that NICE claims that an adequate evidence base supports CBT/GET, when in fact the Guideline Development Group (GDG) relied almost exclusively on a handful of extremely controversial RCTs (random controlled trials). I have no doubt that patients in the research quoted by the GDG did not have ME/CFS” (Dr Irving Spurr, Newcastle ME Research Group; 12th August 2008)

· “My overall impression reading the Guidelines for the first time was one of alarm. I will limit my comments to the deficiency which has the greatest potential for harm to patients. The NICE Guidelines do not make any reference to the biomedical literature on ME/CFS. A physician who is new to the field and who has not had time to read the thousands of paper reporting measurable abnormalities in ME/CFS may get the impression that: (1) Biomedical issues are irrelevant in ME/CFS and that (2) CBT and GET actually make the core symptoms of people with ME/CFS better. A close read of the literature reveals that none of the core symptoms of ME/CFS improve with CBT or GET. The recommendation for GET stems from the often quoted but unproven assumption that deconditioning causes or exacerbates ME/CFS. In fact this assumption has been disproven (Bazelmans et al 2001; Harvey et al 2008) and cannot therefore be used as a basis for treatment. Informed consent is an ethical requisite in the practice of medicine. Informed consent requires that patients embarking on any therapy be told the potential benefits and risks of the therapy being recommended. Meeting this legal standard in ME/CFS requires that patients be told about the potential benefits and risks of CBT/GET. If patients are being coerced to believe what is not true, psychological trauma can result. If patients are pushed to increase activity beyond their capabilities, exacerbation of symptoms can be expected. The NICE Guidelines are biased towards a particular model of CBT/GET that is widely viewed as ineffective and potentially unethical” (Dr Eleanor Stein, Consultant Psychiatrist, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, 12th August 2008)

· “(Graded exercise therapy) is not therapy – it is simply the enforcement of an opinion rather than a treatment based upon any scientific examination of a patient’s pathology and treatment of that pathology. I believe that those who developed (the) graded exercise programme as a valid treatment of ME have already been soundly criticised to the Courts. I also believe scientific evidence that such a programme is against the best interests of ME patients has already been presented. The benefit of such a programme is to the interests of the insurance industry and not the patient. Graded exercise programmes may be significantly dangerous to many of these ME patients” (Dr Byron Hyde, Clinician specialising in ME, having examined over 3,000 patients between 1984 – 2008; Ottawa, Canada; 15th August 2008)

· “(The GDG) produced a Guideline that recommends CBT and GET as the prime treatment yet there is in fact published evidence of contraindication / potential harm with GET. This has been published by independent researchers (e.g. Peckerman et al). The NICE GDG claims that CBT/GET are supported by significant research. In fact the GDG relied almost exclusively on specious reports which are unproven” (Dr Derek Enlander, Virologist specialising in ME/CFS; formerly Assistant Professor at Columbia University and Associate Director of Nuclear Medicine at New York University; Physician-in-Waiting to the UK Royal Family and to members of HM Government when they visit New York; 18th August 2008)

· “I regard the continuing aura of disbelief surrounding the illness and mainly emanating from the psychiatrists as detrimental to both medical progress and the interests of sufferers” (Dr Nigel Speight, Consultant Paediatrician specialising in ME/CFS; 20th August 2008)

· “It is with regret that I note that the NICE Guidelines do not take into account recent developments in the management of ME. They lean towards a psychological and psychiatric basis, when it is now recognised that there are a large number of medical problems associated with ME. Recent studies on genetics, the central nervous system, muscle function and persistent infections have shown that there is a great deal of medical information available with regard to the management of ME” (Dr Terry Daymond, Consultant Rheumatologist and recently Clinical Champion for ME for the North-East; 22nd August 2008)

· “Research from the ‘organic school’ identified many pathophysiological abnormalities in patients with ME/CFS resulting from dysfunction in a number of vital control systems of the body such as the central nervous system, the autonomic nervous system, the endocrinological system and the immune system. The attitude of the ‘psycho-social’ school continues to be to largely ignore this research. It seems they can only maintain their hypothesis by discouraging the search for an organic basis and by denying the published evidence, which they are certainly doing. This unseemly battle of ideas has been settled politically by proclamation and manipulation, not by science, and not by fair and open means. CBT and GET appear to be based on the rationale that patients with CFS/ME have ‘faulty’ belief systems concerning the ‘dangers’ of activity, and that these aberrant beliefs are significant perpetuating factors. If CBT to ‘correct’ these ‘false’ beliefs can be combined with a graded exercise programme to re-condition these patients, it is virtually promised that a significant proportion of them will improve both their attitude and their physical functioning, and thus cure their illness. Using CBT, patients are therefore to be challenged regarding their ‘aberrant’ thoughts and expectations of relapse that the ‘psycho-social school’ psychiatrists believe affect symptom improvement and outcomes. Cognitions concerning fatigue-related conditions are to be addressed; these include any alleged ‘over-vigilance to symptoms’ and reassurance-seeking behaviours, and are to be dealt with using re-focusing and distraction techniques. It is when a therapy such as CBT begins to interfere with the natural warning systems, of which both pain and fatigue are a part, that the increased risks arise. In particular, musculo-skeletal pain and fatigue have essential function in modulating activity when the body is in a state of disease as in ME/CFS. NICE, however, recommends over-riding this essential safety-net, thus the risk of serious harm is increased in this situation of simultaneous activity and symptoms denial. This will become a more serious risk in patients with more severe ME/CFS. The Guideline does not indicate how the clinician can tell whether patients’ beliefs concerning their symptoms are aberrant and/or when the symptoms accurately point to the underlying state of the disease process” (Dr Bruce Carruthers, Consultant Physician, Vancouver, Canada, 29th August 2008)

· “There have been only five trials of CBT with a validity score greater than 10, one of which was negative for the intervention; and only three RCTs of GET with a validity score greater than 10. The total number of available trials is small; patient numbers are relatively low; no trial contains a ‘control’ intervention adequate to determine specific efficacy, and their results are relatively modest. In addition, some of the studies (particularly those on GET) have used the Oxford criteria for diagnosis, a rubric which allows selection of patients with chronic fatigue states and which do not necessarily exclude certain psychiatric disorders, raising the question of the applicability of the results of these studies to the many patients with specific biomedical symptoms and signs consistent with myalgic encephalomyelitis. Again, the heterogeneity of the trials, the potential effect of publication or funding bias for which there is some evidence, and professional doubts about the evidence base for some behavioural therapies themselves give grounds for caution as regards the usefulness of (CBT/GET). A commentary in the BMJ (Bolsover 2002) is particularly relevant: ‘Until the limitations of the evidence base for CBT are recognised, there is a risk that psychological treatments in the NHS will be guided by research that is not relevant to actual clinical practice and is less robust than is claimed’. Indeed, a large body of both professional and lay opinion considers that these essentially adjunctive techniques have little more to offer than good medical care alone” (Dr Neil Abbot, Director of Operations, ME Research UK; Hon Research Fellow, Department of Medicine, University of Dundee, 29th August 2008)

· “The overall flavour of the Guideline is to lump together all patients with ‘medically unexplained fatigue’, from relatively mild to profoundly disabling illness and to treat all patients with a standard approach of gradual reconditioning and cognitive behavioural modification. By lumping such a heterogeneous mix of patients…patients with CFS or ME are left with very limited options, and little hope. In addition, this document proscribes immunological and other biologic testing on patients with (ME)CFS in the UK, despite the evidence in the world’s medical literature that such testing produces most of the biomedical evidence of serious pathology in these patients. Equally unfortunate is the GDG’s recommendation for behavioural modification as the single management approach for all ‘medically unexplained fatigue’. This month we participated in the International Conference on Fatigue Science in Okinawa, Japan. Dr Peter White of the UK presented his work using behavioural modification and graded exercise. He reported a recovery rate of about 25%, a figure much higher than seen in US studies in (ME)CFS and, even if possible, simply not hopeful enough to the 75% who fail to recover” (Professors Nancy Klimas and Mary Ann Fletcher, University of Miami; 13th September 2008)

· Attached as an appendix to their Statement was a separate Summary of Current State of Understanding of (ME)CFS), from which the following quotations are taken: “Many of the symptoms of (ME)CFS are inflammatory in nature. There is a considerable literature describing immune activation in (ME)CFS. Overall the evidence has led workers in the field to appreciate that immunologic abnormalities are a characteristic of at least a subset of (ME)CFS and that the pathogenesis is likely to include an immunologic component. Fulcher and White (2000) suggest a role for deconditioning in the development of autonomic dysfunction and overall level of disability in (ME)CFS patients. On the other hand, Friedberg et al (2000) suggest the long duration (ME)CFS subjects are more likely to have symptoms suggestive of chronic immune activation and inflammation. We are currently working with investigators at the Centres for Disease Control and the University of Alberta looking at the mediators of relapse after exercise challenge using gene expression studies, neuroendocrine, immune and autonomic measures”

· “My main concern about the NICE document is that what must be great uncertainty in both costs and particularly in quality of life difference is not allowed for” (Martin Bland, Professor of Health Statistics, University of York, 17th September 2008)

· “The guideline is dominated by positive and largely uncritical recommendations for CBT and GET. However, the guideline plays down the fact that patient experience has consistently reported that significant numbers of people with ME/CFS find these approaches to be either unhelpful or, in the case of GET, makes their condition worse. Some of the hospital-based services are not being physician-led but ‘therapist-led’. In some cases people are now being given little more than a ‘therapist-led’ management assessment followed by an offer of CBT and/or GET. I received some very unhappy patient feedback on this type of service on Saturday 11th October (2008) in Colchester, Essex, where great dissatisfaction was expressed by many members of the audience who attended the ME Association’s ‘Question Time’ meeting” (Dr Charles Shepherd, Medical Adviser, ME Association, 24th October 2008)

· “I am a consultant immunopathologist and before retirement worked at St James’ University Hospital, Leeds. A key area of my professional interest was and remains myalgic encephalomyelitis and I have carried out research into the disorder. For a number of years I ran clinics specifically for patients with ME. In my opinion NICE guidelines overemphasise the usefulness of CBT and GET to the detriment of patients. I have no hesitation in stating that in my opinion, the situation for ME/CFS patients is worse, not better, since the publication of the NICE Guideline” (Dr Layinka Swinburne, Leeds, 22nd October 2008)

· “As my clinical freedoms were progressively eroded, it meant that I was becoming ineffective and indeed possibly dangerous as a practitioner. All that patients could be offered was CBT coupled with GET, which I consider not to be appropriate for many of my patients and in the case of GET potentially damaging for some” (Dr Sarah Myhill, General Practitioner specialising in ME/CFS, Powys; Secretary of the British Society for Ecological Medicine, 10th November 2008).