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ME Association responds to disappointing reply from Oxford NHS Trust about ‘inaccurate’ and ‘offensive’ job advert

On 14 August, Dr Shepherd wrote to Dr Haldene and the Oxford NHS Trust about an ‘inaccurate' and ‘offensive' job advertisement for a clinical psychologist to work with the ME/CFS specialist service (and the renal transplant service). We received a disappointing reply from Dr Prangnell – Consultant Clinical Neuropsychologist – to which Dr Shepherd has responded (below). He has also written to Professor Meghana Pandit, Chief Executive of the Oxford NHS Trust.

Response from Dr Simon Prangnell

Dear Dr Shepherd,

Thank you for your email regarding the job description for a clinical psychologist in our service. 

We are very sorry if the wording included within the job description has caused offence. The job description is based on a nationally agreed template from NHS Employers as part of the Agenda for Change Framework.

The items you have highlighted are not specific to people with CFS / ME but instead are part of a general skill set that clinical psychologists are expected to have should these issues arise.  In some situations psychologists are required to respond to urgent / emergency situations not necessarily within their usual service.

We will bear your comments in mind when advertising future roles, however, and consider better ways of framing these requirements.

Best wishes


Dr Simon Prangnell, Consultant Clinical Neuropsychologist, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

New letter from Dr Shepherd

Dear Dr Prangnell

Thank you for responding.

It is very disappointing to learn that the discriminatory language is not going to be removed from the ME/CFS job description and I don’t think it is good enough to infer that this wording may be changed in future job adverts for this referral service.

Consequently, I am going to raise my concerns with Professor Meghana Pandit, Chief Executive of the OUH NHS Trust. 

Having worked in hospital psychiatry I am well aware of the way in which patients can behave when they are distressed, confused or angry. This is something that any health professional who has direct contact with patients should already be well aware of and know how to deal with.

I would accept that there may sometimes be a case for highlighting specific issues relating to a specialist referral service that caters for a condition where there are likely to be communication or behavioural issues.

However, I have worked with people who have ME/CFS for over 40 years – some of whom are upset and distressed by the lack of care and support they have been given by health professionals.  During this time I have never had to deal with anyone suffering a psychotic episode or who was been physically aggressive. In fact, most people with ME/CFS are far too unwell to be physically aggressive.

Having looked at some other job adverts for psychologists it is clear that  there is no compulsion to use this form of discriminatory wording from the template.  

So I do not believe that it is necessary to use this sort of language in a job description relating to your ME/CFS referral service.  

To do so is only going to create further difficulties in the way that people with ME/CFS feel that they are likely to be viewed by health professionals if they are referred for specialist care – as has been highlighted in the DHSC Delivery Plan for ME/CFS and in the social media responses to this advert.



Dr Charles Shepherd, Hon. Medical Adviser, The ME Association. 

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