Elementary, my dear Home Office… your classification is wrong! | 30 March 2015

One of our members has just drawn our attention to a Home Office circular which tells Chief Police Officers that, when assessing recruits for the service, they should regard Chronic Fatigue Syndrome as akin to somatoform, factitious and dissociative disorders. The illness is listed in the circular as among “Conditions affecting mental and psychiatric health”.

Our medical adviser, Dr Charles Shepherd, immediately contacted the Home Office requesting recall of this advice which he says “could easily result in inaccurate and highly prejudicial assumptions and conclusions being made about a person’s health status and their suitability/ability for police service recruitment.” The circular was written in 2004 but still appears to be in current use.

Dr Shepherd has written this afternoon to the Home Office in the following terms:

Re: HOC 59/2004 Medical standards for police recruitment
 
One of our members has drawn my attention to an inaccurate classification of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) in this publication.
 
This inaccurate classification appears on page 18 in the section covering: Conditions affecting Mental and Psychiatric Heath – see below
 
The 10th World Health Organisation International Classification of Diseases (!CD10) lists ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis) and PVFS (post-viral fatigue syndrome) as a neurological disease in section G93:3.
 
CFS is linked to this classification – as it has no separate classification in ICD10.
 
The UK government and Department of Health fully accept this neurological classification:
 
www.meassociation.org.uk/2011/03/parliamentary-question-who-classification-of-me-1-march-2011/
 
I would therefore be grateful if you could remove CFS from this section as quickly as possible and place it in the neurological section (along with ME and PVFS) where it should be.
 
This is because, as I am sure you will appreciate, wrongly classifying a neurological illness as a mental health condition or implying it could be a factitious disorder (www.webmd.com/mental-health/factitious-disorders) in this document could easily result in inaccurate and highly prejudicial assumptions and conclusions being made about a person’s health status and their suitability/ability for police service recruitment.
 
Regards
 
Dr Charles Shepherd
Hon Medical Adviser, ME Association

The relevant page from the Home Office circular:

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