Medical Services at the Department for Work and Pensions have published a new version of their ME/CFS training document for health care professionals carrying out benefit assessments. The 50-page document was published on 28 May 2014 and can be downloaded HERE.
After a quick, initial read, ME Association medical adviser Dr Charles Shepherd comments:
Although this new guidance for health professionals who are assessing DWP benefit claims is now finalised and not going to be the subject of any immediate further review, The ME Association will be sending in detailed comments and suggestions regarding our concerns about numerous aspects of the final version. We will also be requesting a meeting with Dr Mark Allerton at the DWP to discuss them.
A quite extensive consultation process took place during the preparation of this guidance and The MEA had input into this process.
Some of our input was accepted. For example, from p21:
The ME Association issued a press statement on the results of the PACE trial on the 18th of February 2011, which stated that ‘the results are at serious variance to patient evidence on both cognitive therapy and exercise therapy’. This was based on results from a survey performed by the ME Association in 200818, during which a comprehensive questionnaire was sent to people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and their carers, which suggested that pacing was found to be more beneficial than Graded Exercise therapy.
And whilst we are pleased to see that the ‘Further Reading’ section refers to the MEA purple booklet – ME/CFS/PVFS: An Exploration of the Key Clinical Issues – as a source of information, the edition that is referenced is the one that was published in 2001!!
Paper copies of the current (2013) edition were, in fact, sent to DWP HQ during the consultation process.
But other parts of our submission were not accepted
It should be noted that the final guidance was only signed off after it had been reviewed by a clinician nominated by the Royal College of Physicians.
When I have had time to study the guidance in more detail, I will provide further details of what we intend to do.
In the meantime feedback from the ME patient community is very welcome. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Charles Shepherd
Hon Medical Adviser, MEA
Member of DWP Fluctuating Conditions Group