The chairman of the Royal College of GPs, Dr Clare Gerada, has accepted an invitation to speak at this year's annual international conference of Invest in ME (IiME).
The charity say Dr Gerada – wife of Professor Sir Simon Wessely – has been invited to the London event on May 31 because it is important to have people in influential positions such as chair of the Royal College in the room.
In a statement placed on their website this weekend, IiME say:
Almost every patient in UK (and probably elsewhere) will be seen by their GP when they get ME. Often they will be diagnosed by a GP – before, if lucky, being referred to a consultant.
Whether they are referred to a consultant or not (and there are very, very few ME consultants in the UK) then the GP is likely still to play a large part in the continuing care and management of the ME patient.
So GPs will play an important role and we need to ensure that GPs are aware of the biomedical research being carried out into ME.
It is entirely fitting that we attempt to encourage GPs to attend and become more knowledgeable about ME and the biomedical research which is underway or planned.
This biomedical research conference would be the first occasion that the chair of one of the major establishment organisations has agreed to attend so it is a good thing and shows that biomedical ME is becoming part of mainstream medicine instead of being left at the fringes and being ignored.
We cannot try to change things if we ignore existing healthcare structures and GPs are the first port of call for all patients.
IiME add that the chair of the Royal College of GPs has been invited to explain the effects on GPs and their patients of NHS reforms into the way long term conditions, particularly ME, are managed.
The conference will have “Infection, Immunity and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis – Mainstreaming ME Research” as its theme. Booking for the event in Westminster opened a few days ago.
The statement continues:
We hope that all in the audience are able to use this opportunity wisely and politely to move the ME cause forward.
It is in nobody’s interests for patients continually to fight with healthcare professionals and resort to criticism and insults, any more than it is for patients to be denigrated and marginalised when all they wish for is to get better. There has to be a better way to ensure that we do not lose another generation to this disease.
Other conference speakers lined up so far, under the chairmanship of former Labour MP Dr Ian Gibson, are:
* Mady Hornig, associate professor at the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University, New York
* Neuroimmunologist Professor Sonya Marshall–Gradisnik from Griffith University, Auatralia
* Carmen Scheibenbogen, professor of immunology at Berlin Charité, Germany
• Professor Olav Mella and Dr Øystein Fluge from Bergen University Hospital, Norway, who have raised the tantalising possibility that the cancer drug, ritixumab, may have a role in treating certain types of ME/CFS
* Dr Andreas Kogelnik, founding director of the US–based Open Medicine Institute which is intensely promoting translational research into ME/CFS
* Consultant immunologist Dr Amolak Bansal, clinical lead of the ME/CFS service run by the Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust in Surrey.
To book seats for the conference, click HERE
To read IiME's full statement, click HERE