FORWARD ME Group: meeting in the House of Lords to discuss DWP benefits issues

December 20, 2009


The minutes for the last meeting of the FORWARD ME Group, which was held at the House of Lords on 24 November 2009, are now available on the group's website.

The main topic was a presentation from Dr James Bolton, Deputy Chief Medical Adviser at the DWP, on a range of benefit issues. 
This was followed by questions relating to specific problems faced by people with ME/CFS concerning:
  • ESA and the 2010 independent review of how this new work-related benefit is working
  • ICB change over to ESA starting in 2010 
  • Introduction of medical ‘fit notes'
  • DLA
  • Training of medical staff  who carry out assessments for the DWP
  • Problems with ATOSstaff and how to make a complaint
  • Permitted work rules 
The minutes contain a detailed account of this part of the meeting.
Other topics covered during this meeting included:
  • Research Workshop organised in November by the MRC Expert Group on ME/CFS
  • Tissue bank and post mortem tissue bankfeasibility study
  • XMRV research
  • APPG Inquiry into NHS Service Provision for people with ME/CFS
  • CCRNC membership
  • Lightning Process
  • Welfare Reform Bill
  • Future membership of the Group
The FORWARD ME Group website (minutes section) also has a copy of some Department of Health correspondence, initiated by the Countess of Mar, concerning the way in which insurance companies may view ME/CFS following the outcome of the NICE judicial review back in February this year.  This DoH/ABI correspondence specifically relates to an insurance industry website posting that the MEA brought to the attention of the Countess of Mar earlier this year.
In the DoH letter to the Association of British Insurers it is stated quite firmly that: The Department of Health fully accepts the World Health Organisation classification of ME/CFS as a neurological condition of unknown cause
This is useful information for anyone who is in dispute over an insurance issue and the way ME/CFS is classified.
The ME Association would like to thank the Countess of Mar for all the time and effort she has spent this year on trying to help people with ME/CFS
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