Thank you to those who have contacted me to share their experience of ME, particularly ahead of the debate on ME/CFS held last week in the House of Commons. I was so sorry that I could not attend the debate itself as I was attending the handover of the Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre at Stanford Hall which the Duke of Cambridge and the Prime Minister attended.
I recognise that this is a debilitating condition and that many sufferers face barriers in getting the treatment they need. I have, therefore, been doing some work in this area, having attended a local and Parliamentary screening of the film Unrest, which provided an eye-opening insight into the lives of those who suffer from ME, and having called for a further debate on the condition during a Westminster Hall debate on the PACE trials.
Most recently, I attended the Backbench Business Committee with Carol Monaghan MP to apply for a 3 hour debate on the issue. I was pleased when our application was approved.
If I had been able to speak last week, I would have highlighted the need for better training for health professionals so that they can diagnose this condition more quickly and provide sufferers with the treatment and care they need. I was pleased that many of the MPs in attendance raised this issue and that the Health Minister, Steve Brine MP, acknowledged that there are challenges. It is right that he committed to redoubling his efforts to raise awareness of ME among medical professionals.
I also know that that more research into the condition is crucial and so I was interested to hear that the Government is working with the UK CFS/ME Research Collaborative and patient representatives to establish how best they can support a joined-up approach to encourage more high-quality research into ME. If you would like more information about how the Government is supporting those with ME, you can watch the debate here.
I shall continue to work with colleagues across the House to ensure that the concerns of those who suffer from ME and their families are made clear to Ministers, and I hope there will be further debates on the matter.