On Thursday 25th January, Sir David joined MPs from all parties in a landmark debate on M.E in the House of Commons. The Southend West MP spoke of the urgent need for investment in better training, treatment and research to transform the lives of those living with the condition.
M.E (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis), often referred to as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, is a long-term condition that causes extreme tiredness and pain. An estimated quarter of a million people in the UK live with the condition, yet it is often misunderstood. Patients report finding their illness dismissed or not believed, even by the medical profession itself. Sir David raised the case of Southend West constituent Isabel Butler, who despite crippling symptoms went undiagnosed for seven years and told she was depressed.
Led by Glasgow North West MP, Carol Monaghan, the debate was called in response to controversial NHS treatment guidelines, which patients claim often worsen their condition. Campaigners say that the PACE trial that led to current NHS treatment recommendations was fundamentally flawed and failed to record patient response accurately. Sir David argued how ‘the controversy of the PACE trail arose from a failure to listen to sufferers and believe their experiences.’ He also called upon NICE to take their guideline review as ‘an opportunity to start listening to patients themselves.’
Sir David urged the Government to invest in GP training to transform M.E care, and commit more funds to biomedical research into the condition. Speaking in the debate, the MP said how ‘as an invisible illness, many people suffer in silence. I sincerely hope that this debate will not just be mere words and that it will lead to some well overdue action.’
A full transcript of Sir David’s speech can be found at: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2019-01-24/debates/FA1BBC27-37A7-4BFD-A2C0-A58B57F41D4D/AppropriateMETreatment#contribution-6C51E1BB-A0C0-455F-B7D5-871ED9527ECD