Comments by the Countess of Mar during debate at the committee stage of the Health and Social Care Bill, 7 November 2011

Committee (3rd Day) (Continued)
Health and Social Care Bill

Hansard source

Discussing an amendment moved by Lord Warner.

My Lords,I support this amendment. If ever there was a case against inequality of treatment, it is for people with ME. I am saying ME rather than ME-CFS because that is too long. The postcode lottery for people with ME has been highlighted in two inquiries by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for ME over the last five years. People are constantly writing to Ministers complaining; the noble Earl himself knows, because I keep complaining about it. In 2002, the Chief Medical Officer announced an award of £8.5 million to set up specialist centres for ME. These have just fizzled out. Once the £8.5 million ring-fence money had been spent, the first thing that was cut was services for people with ME. The trouble is, they are blighted with the distinction of being yuppie flu sufferers-people who swing the lead. They are not: this is more and more often now being proven to be a physical disease with mental side effects, as cancer and MS and a whole lot of other chronic diseases are. It is time the inequality of treatment for people with ME-CFS was obliterated.

Perhaps the worst inequality is in services for children. There are virtually no ME services for children in the UK, particularly children who are bed-bound and housebound, and this is a disgrace on our society. These children-very often high-achieving children-are suddenly struck down; they can no longer have social relationships because they are too ill or too tired to cope; they cannot continue with their education and yet there is no medical attention for them. I am sorry-I am suffering myself at the moment, so I am not being very comprehensive in what I am saying-but it does need to be said that these people need to be looked after. I support the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Warner.

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