Annette Brooke MP (Mid Dorset and North Poole, Liberal Democrat, and chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on ME) tabled this question to the Secretary of State for Health:
(1) if he will bring forward proposals for regulations to ensure that ME and chronic fatigue syndrome are included in all pre- and post-registration training of (a) GPs and (b) other health care professionals;
(2) what steps his Department plans to take to improve information and support for GPs regarding ME or chronic fatigue syndrome; and if he will take steps to improve access to specialist services for people with those conditions.
It was answered on May 12 (International ME Awareness Day) by Norman Lamb, (Minister of State, Department of Health; North Norfolk, Liberal Democrat), who wrote:
In 2007, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) produced the clinical guidance, ‘Chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (or encephalopathy): Diagnosis and management of CFS/ME in adults and children’. This guidance set out best practice on the diagnosis, treatment care and support of children and adults with CFS/ME. Information on CFS/ME diagnosis and treatment can also be accessed via the NHS Evidence and NICE Clinical Knowledge summaries websites.
The content and standard of health care professional training is the responsibility of regulators, such as the General Medical Council, which are independent statutory bodies. They have the general function of promoting high standards of education, working with the Royal Colleges, and co-ordinating all stages of education to ensure that students and newly-qualified professionals are equipped with the knowledge, skills and attitudes essential for professional practice.
The Government has mandated Health Education England (HEE) to provide national leadership on education, training and work force development in the national health service. HEE is responsible for ensuring that the future work force has the right numbers, skills, values and behaviours to meet patients’ needs today and tomorrow, and will work with stakeholders to influence training curricula as appropriate.
In another question also answered on May 12, Mrs Brooke asked the Secretary of State for Health what steps his Department is taking to improve access to social care assessments for people with ME or chronic fatigue syndrome.
Mr Lamb replied:
The Care Bill will require local authorities to provide information and advice on how to access care and support in their area including assessments.
The Bill will place local authorities under a duty to assess any adult who appears to have needs for care and support, whatever their level of need. The assessment will look at the person’s needs and outcomes they want to achieve, and the person must be involved throughout the process. Authorities will have to ensure that anyone who is undertaking an assessment is appropriately trained to do so, and that where the assessor is not experienced in the condition of the person they are assessing, they must consult someone who is.
These measures will ensure that the person needing care has an effective assessment carried out by an appropriately trained assessor.