HC Deb 24 May 2002 vol 386 cc681-2W
Mr. Wray

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what assistance has been given to research into myalgic encephalomyelitis since 1997; [56261]

(2) what (a) medical, (b) welfare and (c) benefit provisions are made for those suffering from myalgic encephalomyelitis; [56263]

(3) what plans he has for a comprehensive epidemiological study into myalgic encephalomyelitis. [56262]

Jacqui Smith

Since 1997 the Department of Health and Medical Research Council (MRC) invested approximately £370,000 on research projects relevant to myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME).

In addition to specific projects, the Department provides support for research commissioned by charities and the research councils that takes place in the National Health Service. Management of much of the research supported by NHS research & development funding is devolved and expenditure at project level is not held centrally by the Department. The total investment is considerably greater than the spend on directly commissioned projects.

There are currently no plans to commission a national epidemiology study. The Department has asked the MRC to develop a broad strategy for advancing biomedical and health services research on CFS/ME.

It is the role of primary care trusts, to decide what services to provide for their populations including those with CFS/ME. They are best placed to understand local health needs and commission services to meet them.

Section 2 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 places local authorities under a duty to arrange services for individual disabled people where they are satisfied that they are necessary to meet the person's needs. The services concerned include practical assistance in the home; recreational facilities; assistance in travelling to services; assistance in arranging adaptations to the home, or the provision of additional facilities designed to secure greater safety, comfort or convenience; facilitating the taking of holidays; the provision of meals and the provision of a telephone and any special equipment necessary to enable the disabled person to use it.

Entitlement to benefit is not dependent on a claimant having any particular diagnosis but the resulting care and mobility needs in the case of Disability Living Allowance or its effects on the person's ability to perform prescribed work-related function in the Personal Capability Assessment for incapacity benefits. Where a clinical diagnosis of CFS/ME has been made full account will be taken of its disabling effects.