ME Association Complaint Re: Newsnight 08 April 2021 Long Covid & ME/CFS

Dr Charles Shepherd, 14 April 2021 

Dear Sir, 

There was a serious lack of balance and information in this Newsnight report regarding the efficacy and safety of using intensifying exercise programmes in the management of ME/CFS and Long Covid.  

  1. NICE has reviewed clinical trial and patient evidence on the safety and efficacy of graded exercise therapy (GET) in ME/CFS and concluded (in the current November 2020 working draft of the new ME/CFS guideline) that GET should no longer be recommended as a treatment.  
    Extensive patient evidence has repeatedly confirmed that over half of people with ME/CFS who have been treated with GET have been made worse as a result. 
  1. The NICE guideline on Long Covid is not recommending GET for Long Covid.   
  1. Given the fact that a significant number of people with Long Covid have undetected respiratory or cardiac/myocardial damage, and that suddenly returning to an intensifying exercise programme could precipitate cardiac arrhythmias in those with cardiac damage, a warning about this potential and serious adverse event should have been included. 
  1. The statement regarding a research survey carried out by Professor Singh: 

“Medics running Long Covid clinics…… A survey of over 1000 clinicians showed over 87% supporting the use of intensifying exercise programmes” 

 …was misleading and requires a correction. 

This research was carried out in early April 2020 – well before Long Covid was recognised as a serious post COVID condition and one where undetected cardiac damage could be present.  

The respondents were mainly physiotherapists – only 6% were physicians.   

There is no reference to the safety and efficacy of using an intensifying exercise programme for people with Long Covid in this survey.  


I would be grateful if you could investigate these concerns and look forward to hearing from you in due course. 

Yours sincerely, 

Dr Charles Shepherd 

Hon. Medical Adviser, ME Association 

Shopping Basket