§ The Countess of Mar
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether, in the light of their clarification that myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome is a neurological disease and not a psychiatric disorder, they will forward this information to the chief executives of all National Health Service healthcare trusts, to primary care trusts and to social services departments; and whether they will issue a press release to inform the general public and the media about the correct classification of the syndrome; and [HL2302]
What steps they have taken to inform the Presidents of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the Royal College of Paediatricians and Child Health that those of their documents which describe chronic fatigue syndrome as a mental health disorder or list the syndrome under the heading "Support for children with mental problems" are not in accord with the Government's confirmation that myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome is a neurological disease. [HL2303]
§ Lord Warner
The Department of Health did not say that myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome is a neurological disease. What we did, with the help of the World Health Organisation and WHO Collaborating Centre, was clear up some confusion32WA around terminology in the second edition of the WHO Guide to Mental Health and Neurology in Primary Care.
In our present state of knowledge, chronic fatigue syndrome remains medically unexplained with various associated risk factors, and with variable symptoms, including some neurological, cardiovascular, digestive and psychological symptoms.
Our policy remains as stated in the government response to the Independent Working Group's report in 2002. Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome is a debilitating and distressing condition affecting many people. It is a chronic illness and health and social care professionals should manage it as such.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists and the Royal College of Paediatricians and Child Health are independent organisations and the Department of Health is not involved in the publication of their documents. Questions on the content of their publications need to be taken up with the organisations and authors involved.