HC Deb 26 April 2004 vol 420 cc833-4W
Mrs. Iris Robinson

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what evidence he has collated to indicate that CFS/ME is a neurological disorder; [166704]

(2) what has been learned from studies of the effectiveness of cognitive behavioural therapy in patients suffering CFS/ME; and if he will make a statement; [166706]

(3) what evidence he has collated of (a) cardiovascular and (b) biochemical features in ME/CFS. [166711]

Dr. Ladyman

In our present state of knowledge, chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) remains medically unexplained with various associated risk factors, and wits variable symptoms from various systems in the body, including some neurological, immunological, cardiovascular, digestive and psychological symptoms. There are many different views on what causes these symptoms, and some of them are strongly held.

In its report to the Chief Medical Officer in 2002, the independent working group on CFS/ME noted that there is no cure for CFS/ME but identified three specific strategies as potentially beneficial in modifying the illness: graded exercise, cognitive behavioural therapy, and pacing. Graded exercise focuses on gradual but progressive increases in aerobic exercise, such as walking or swimming. Cognitive behavioural therapy aims to empower patients to identify, understand, and modify their belief systems and behaviours. Pacing is an energy management strategy in which patients are encouraged to achieve an appropriate balance between rest and activity.