The Liberal Democrat MP for Portsmouth South, Mike Hancock, received answers to a number of written questions about ME/CFS on Monday, December 10. The first set of questions was answered by Anne McGuire, Minster for Disabled People in the Department for Work and Pensions.
Incapacity Benefits: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has to revise his guidance to lay decision-makers assessing claims for disability living allowance from sufferers of myalgic encephalopathy, chronic fatigue syndrome; and if he will make a statement.
Mrs. McGuire: Updated medical guidance on myalgic encephalomyelitis and chronic fatigue syndrome for disability living allowance decision-makers was published in July 2007. The guidance is available on the Department’s website. There are no current plans for further revision, but officials will continue to monitor new research and evidence in this area.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent representations he has received from (a) myalgic encephalopathy, chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) charities, (b) medical professionals and (c) individuals with ME/CFS on his Department’s advice on claimants suffering from this illness.
Mrs. McGuire: The guidance published in July 2007 was written in consultation with medical experts from relevant medical specialities, including an expert nominated by groups representing people with myalgic encephalomyelitis and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Consultation with groups representing people with CFS included three face to face meetings. Their comments and views were taken into account.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what scientific studies underlie his Department’s guidance on benefit applicants with myalgic encephalopathy, chronic fatigue syndrome.
Mrs. McGuire: The Department did not use any specific scientific studies to inform the revision of its guidance to disability living allowance decision-makers, but used instead a range of recognised experts in the field to help with drawing up the guidance. This process included engagement with bodies representing people with myalgic encephalopathy and chronic fatigue syndrome.
The next question was put to Ed Balls, Secretary of State for Schools, Children and Families but answered by Ian Pearson, Minister of State for Science and Innovation in the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families if he will commission research into the underlying biomedical cause of myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome; and if he will make a statement.
Ian Pearson: I have been asked to reply.
DIUS does not commission medical research. The Medical Research Council (MRC) is one of the main agencies through which the Government support medical and clinical research. Chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) is a strategic priority area for the MRC and the council is continuing to promote research in this area.