Switched-on Ian Swales (the Liberal Democrat MP for Redcar and a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on ME) asked what many people with ME/CFS would regard as The Big Question during Health Questions in the House of Commons yesterday.
Called last, Mr Swales asked:
“Following the closure of a specialist ME clinic in Bolton, will the Minister review the narrow NICE guidelines on the treatment of ME, so that patients can get the outcomes that work for them, and so that the doctors providing such treatment are not placed at risk of losing their licence?”
Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, replied:
“My recollection is that NICE itself is undertaking a review of the guidelines relating to the commissioning and provision of services for ME. I will check to ensure that that is the case, and if I am wrong I will of course correct the record. I will write to the hon. Gentleman in any case. It is not for Ministers to write NICE guidelines; that is a matter for NICE to deal with independently.”
Several other MPs then rose to speak but they were cut short by the Speaker, John Bercow, who said: “Order. I am sorry to disappoint colleagues but, as usual, Health questions have been heavily oversubscribed. The House is in high spirits, and it is only Tuesday afternoon.
If Mr Lansley would care to take our word for it, NICE has said it will not undertake a review of its 2007 Guideline on ME/CFS until 2013. And, yes, the MEA will be looking for it to widen the scope of the Guideline “so that patients can get the outcomes that work for them, and so that the doctors providing such treatment are not placed at risk of losing their licence?”