Letter to The Financial Times from The ME Association

SUBMITTED FOR PUBLICATION

Dear Sir,

"Gently does
it" says Edi Smockum on advising us about exercise when ill. Tiredness,
muscle aches, chills and swollen lymph glands require rest. What
excellent advice!


Strange then that the National Institute of
Clinical Excellence (NICE), the Department for Work and Pensions and
NHS Plus are giving the opposite advice to those people with the
neurological illness called Myalgic Encephalomyelitis – you may know it
as ME or sometimes Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The members of our
charity – The ME Association – have the same symptoms that come with flu
but in their case the symptoms can take years to go away and in many
cases they remain throughout their lives.

You quote Pippa
Bennett telling her athletes to "listen to their bodies" – something
that most fitness experts and doctors recommend. Sadly, Government
Bodies are advising doctors to ignore that recommendation when it comes
to people with ME/CFS. Instead those doctors must assume that everyone
with the normal symptoms of flu who has not recovered within 6 months
needs to "get a grip and go to work".

At the ME Association we
have a wonderful "T" shirt that reads: "IT'S REAL – IT' S PHYSICAL – IT'S ME."
Let me assure all your readers that, after 20 years with this illness
following a severe viral infection, I can vouch that this illness is
real, it is physical and that when the flu symptoms go I will follow
the GovernmentÂ’s advice and be back to work like a shot.

Neil Riley
Chairman of the ME Association