BREAKING NEWS: DWP suddenly withdraws new regulations covering the WCA descriptors

The Countess of Mar, who was at the meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on ME at Westminster yesterday, has taken two important parliamentary initiatives in the House of Lords in relation to issues that were discussed at the meeting.

1: REGULATIONS TO CHANGE WORKING CAPABILITY ASSESSMENT (WCA) DESCRIPTORS

The first involves changes to the ESA Working Capability Assessment (WCA) descriptors that were announced last week in a Statutory Instrument and were due to come into force on 28th March.

The Countess of Mar tabled a motion on Monday 14 February relating to delegated legislation.  Her motion called for the ESA legislation to be annulled:

Employment and Support Allowance (Limited Capability for Work and Limited Capability for Work-Related Activity) (Amendment) Regulations 2011

The Countess of Mar to move that a Humble Address be presented to Her Majesty praying that the Regulations, laid before the House on 10 February, be annulled. (SI 2011/228).

The DWP suddenly withdrew the regulations on Monday 14th February for reasons that are not yet clear.  The Countess of Mar’s motion has therefore been removed as it is no longer required.

More information on the original DWP announcement, which was made last week, along with MEA reaction, can be found here: https://meassociation.org.uk/?p=4534

The MEA is currently trying to obtain a statement from the DWP Press Office on this decision and will add this information when it appears.

2: WHO CLASSIFICATION OF ME and CFS

The second parliamentary initiative involves a statement on WHO classification of ME/CFS that was made by Minister for Health Care Services Paul Burstow during the House of Commons Adjournment Debate on 2 February. 

This is in the form of a question for a written answer due before 1 March:

The Countess of Mar to ask Her Majestys’ Government, further to the statement by the Minister of State for Health, Paul Burstow, on 2 February (HC Deb, 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. HL7080

We understand that the Minister is now going to make a further statement on WHO classification of ME, CFS and PVFS.

More information on the Private Member’s Debate can be found here: https://meassociation.org.uk/?p=4264

Dr Charles Shepherd
Hon Medical Adviser, The ME Association
17 February 2011

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