Parliamentary Questions: departmental definitions of ME, 12 September 2011

Two written questions were tabled by Mike Hancock, Liberal Democrat MP for Portsmouth South – asking how each department at Health and at Work and Pensions defined ME and how each department characterised the condition.

In separate written answers supplied on 12 September:

Minister for Care Services at the Department of Health, Paul Burstow, replied:

The report of the CFS/ME Working Group to the chief medical officer, in January 2002, suggested that the composite term chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) be used as an umbrella term for this condition, or spectrum of disease.

This term is used by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence for their clinical guidelines, which also provide a definition of this condition for health professionals.

The Department classes CFS/ME as a long-term neurological disease of unknown cause.

And Chris Grayling, Minister for Employment at the Department for Work and Pensions, replied:

DWP guidance defines Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis as:

“an illness that is characterised by physical and mental fatigue and fatigability.”

Guidance does not formally categorise the condition but states that:

“it is important to ensure full consideration is given to all the disabling effects of the illness.”


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