Parliamentary Questions from Annette Brooke MP | 9 & 14 January 2014

Annette Brooke, Liberal Democrat MP for Mid Dorset and North Poole and chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on ME, tabled a question that asked the Secretary of State for Health what funds the Government has spent on research for myalgic encephalomyelitis since 2010; and what funds the Government plans to spend on the study of that condition in the next five years.

A written answer was provided by Daniel Poulter MP, the Parliamentary Under Secretary foe Health, on 9 Decemmber.

The Minister wrote:

Expenditure by the Department on research on chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) through research programmes, research centres and units, and research training awards is shown in the following table.
£ million
2010-11 0.3
2011-12 0.4
2012-13 0.6

Total spend on CFS/ME research by the Department is higher than this because expenditure by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network (CRN) on CFS/ME research cannot be disaggregated from total CRN expenditure.

Total spend in future years by the NIHR on CFS/ME research depends on the volume and quality of scientific activity. The usual practice of the NIHR is not to ring-fence funds for expenditure on particular topics: research proposals in all areas compete for the funding available. The NIHR welcomes funding applications for research into any aspect of human health, including CFS/ME. These applications are subject to peer review and judged in open competition, with awards being made on the basis of the scientific quality of the proposals made.

Over the period 2010-11 to 2012-13 the Medical Research Council (MRC) spent over £0.4 million on research into CFS/ME.

Research into CFS/ME is a priority area for the MRC. In 2011 £1.6 million was awarded to support five research grants following a call for proposals which aimed to improve understanding of the mechanisms of CFS/ME. A highlight notice identifying further areas where applications are encouraged is currently in place. The MRC does not normally allocate funds to particular topics and research proposals in all areas compete for the funding available. Awards are made according to their scientific quality and importance to human health.

Details of MRC research can be found on the RCUK Gateway to Research website at:

http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk

and further information on MRC support for CFS/ME can be found on the MRC website at:

>www.mrc.ac.uk/Ourresearch/ResearchInitiatives/CFSME/index.htm


In Health Question Time in the Commons on 14 January, Mrs Brooke was in action again – this time raising awareness of the UK ME/CFS Research Collaborative.

She asked:
Will the Secretary of State join me in congratulating the UK Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalopathy Research Collaborative for providing a mechanism for ME charities, researchers and clinicians to work together in a co-ordinated way? What support will his Department give research into the causes of and treatment for ME?

Norman Lamb (The Minister of State, Department of Health; North Norfolk, Liberal Democrat), replied:
I am not the Secretary of State, but I would be very happy to join my hon. Friend in congratulating the collaborative, which is doing excellent work to generate more CFS/ME research. Spend by the National Institute for Health Research has already doubled in two years, and more funding applications are welcome. The NIHR has awarded nearly £0.9 million to the collaborative’s deputy chair for a senior fellowship studying paediatric CFS/ME.


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