Parliamentary Questions, Countess of Mar, 21 November 2011

The Countess of Mar received answers to two written questions – both very relevant to ME/CFS – in the House of Lords on 21 November 2011.

In the first question, the Countess asked the Government, in view of the fact that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) is categorised by the World Health Organisation’s mandatory International Categorisation of Diseases as a neurological disease, why Department for Work and Pensions guidelines define CFS/ME as “an illness that is characterised by physical and mental fatigue and fatigability”.

The Minister for Welfare Reform, Lord Freud, replied:

DWP guidance does state that “The term chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is used to describe an illness that is characterised by physical and mental fatigue and fatigability”; however, this is referring to the symptoms associated with the condition and is not a reference to its aetiology or classification.

In her second question, the Countess asked the Government how they will ensure that the children of parents misdiagnosed with fabricated or induced illness, Münchausen’s syndrome by proxy, or borderline personality disorder are not subject to the recently announced fast-track adoption procedures.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education, Lord Hill of Oareford, replied:

This Government are not introducing new fast-track adoption procedures. We are however working with the courts and local authorities so that more looked-after children, for whom adoption is the right plan, are placed with prospective adopters more quickly. That may include greater use of concurrent planning, where a child is placed with foster carers who are also approved as adopters so that the child has a permanent and stable placement if he or she is not able to return to his or her birth parents.

The decision that a child in care cannot safely return home must be made in the light of the best available evidence as to the capacity of the birth parent(s) to safeguard and promote the child’s welfare including, where appropriate, medical evidence.

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