Questions in Parliament: notifiable illness in schools and funding for biomedical research

November 6, 2009

Parliamentary questions about making ME/CFS a notifiable illness in schools and the level of Government funding for biomedical research into illness in the 2008-9 financial year were answered in the form of written replies yesterday (5 November 2009).


Paul Rowen (Lib Dem, Rochdale) asked the Secretary of State for Health whether his department had any plans to make ME a notifiable illness in schools and what recent discussions his department has had with officials from ME charities and campaign groups to make ME a notifiable illness in schools.

In a written answer, Anne Keen, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health, replied:

"We have no plans to make chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME)a notifiable illness in schools.

"Since 2007, the Department has received a large number of requests from many organisations, including CFS/ME stakeholders, campaigning for their disease or condition to be recognised as a notifiable disease. The Department's position remains that this classification should be used only for a relatively small number of infectious diseases where monitoring is required to identify sources of infection, and not as a means for collecting statistical information on the prevalence of specific conditions."


In a second written question, Mr Rowen asked the Health Secretary what funds his Department allocated for biomedical research on the causes and treatment of ME in the 2008-09 financial year.

Gillian Merron, Minister of State for Public Health replied:

"The Medical Research Council (MRC) is one of the main agencies through which the Government support medical and clinical research. The MRC is an independent body which receives its grant in aid from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

"The MRC's total expenditure on chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) research amounted to £730,000 in 2008-09.

"Over the 10 years to 2008-09, a large part of the Department's total expenditure on health research was devolved to and managed by national health service organisations. Details of individual NHS supported research projects undertaken during that time, including a number concerned with CFS/ME, are available on the archived national research register.

The weblink given out in Parliament does not appear to be working this afternoon, but the £730,000 relates to the award of a National Institute of Health Research Clinician Scientist Fellowship to Dr Esther Crawley, Senior Clinical Lecturer at the Centre for Child and Adolescent Health at the University of Bristol.

Click here to read the Bristol University press release, dated 27 February 2009.

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