Daniel Zeichner, Labour MP for Cambridge and Shadow Transport Minister, tabled two questions for the Department of Health which were answered yesterday by Jane Ellison, the Minister for Public Health.
Questions tabled by Mr Zeichner:
(1) To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of service provision for people affected by myalgic encephalopathy/chronic fatigue syndrome.
(2) To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what proportion of people diagnosed with myalgic encephalopathy/chronic fatigue syndrome were referred to a specialist within three months in the last 15 months.
The minister, Jane Ellison, replied:
The commissioning of services for people with myalgic encephalopathy/chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME) is a local matter for National Health Service clinical commissioning groups (CCGs). CCGs are best placed to commission services to meet the needs of local populations, taking into account the best available evidence.
To support CCGs to deliver high quality CFS/ME care, in 2007 the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) produced the guidance Chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (or encephalopathy): Diagnosis and management of CFS/ME in adults and children. The guidance sets out best practice in the diagnosis, care, treatment and support of people with CFS/ME.
Regarding specialist referral, the guidance advises that any decision to refer a person to specialist CFS/ME care should be based on their needs, the type, duration, complexity and severity of their symptoms, and the presence of co-morbidities. The decision should be made jointly by the person with CFS/ME and the healthcare professional. Referral to specialist CFS/ME care should be offered within six months of presentation to people with mild CFS/ME, within 3-4 months of presentation to people with moderate CFS/ME symptoms and immediately to people with severe CFS/ME symptoms.
The Department does not hold information on what proportion of people diagnosed with CFS/ME were referred to a specialist within three months in the last 15 months.
The guidance can be found at the following link: www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg53