Written questions and answers

Written questions allow Members of Parliament to ask government ministers for information on the work, policy and activities of government departments.

Historical written answers can be found in Hansard.

Find the latest written questions and answers for the 2017-19 session below. We welcome your feedback on this service.

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UIN

Unique Identifying Number – Every written question in the House of Commons has a UIN per Parliament. In the House of Lords each written questions has a UIN per parliamentary session.
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Q
(Washington and Sunderland West)
Asked on: 14 February 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Research
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many grant applications have been made to the Medical Research Council for ME/CFS related research since 2010; how many of those applications have been awarded funding; and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Chris Skidmore
Answered on: 22 February 2019

Since 2009/10, the Medical Research Council (MRC) has received 32 research proposals relating to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME), seven of which have been funded.

The MRC supports research in response to proposals from the research community. High quality applications on any aspect of human health are always welcomed and awards are made according to their scientific quality and importance to human health.

Q
(Washington and Sunderland West)
Asked on: 14 February 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Research
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how much funding his Department has allocated to ME/CFS for (a) biopsychological and (b) biopsychosocial research in each year since 2010; and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Caroline Dinenage
Answered on: 22 February 2019

We do not hold the information requested on funding for myalgic encephalitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) research according to biopsychological, biopsychosocial and biomedical research.

The following table shows information provided by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) on Departmental programme research funding for ME/CFS, per year, since financial year 2010-11. Further information on this research is available through the NIHR Journals Library at the following link:

https://www.journalslibrary.nihr.ac.uk/programmes/

Financial Year

£

2010-11

189,438

2011-12

381,874

2012-13

501,461

2013-14

561,950

2014-15

426,055

2015-16

475,676

2016-17

554,785

2017-18

464,902

The NIHR welcomes funding applications for research into any aspect of human health, including ME/CFS; it is not usual practice to ring-fence funds for particular topics or conditions. Applications are subject to peer review and judged in open competition, with awards being made on the basis of the importance of the topic to patients and health and care services, value for money and scientific quality.

Grouped Questions: 221621
Q
(Washington and Sunderland West)
Asked on: 14 February 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Research
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how much funding his Department has allocated to ME/CFS for biomedical research in each year since 2010; and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Caroline Dinenage
Answered on: 22 February 2019

We do not hold the information requested on funding for myalgic encephalitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) research according to biopsychological, biopsychosocial and biomedical research.

The following table shows information provided by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) on Departmental programme research funding for ME/CFS, per year, since financial year 2010-11. Further information on this research is available through the NIHR Journals Library at the following link:

https://www.journalslibrary.nihr.ac.uk/programmes/

Financial Year

£

2010-11

189,438

2011-12

381,874

2012-13

501,461

2013-14

561,950

2014-15

426,055

2015-16

475,676

2016-17

554,785

2017-18

464,902

The NIHR welcomes funding applications for research into any aspect of human health, including ME/CFS; it is not usual practice to ring-fence funds for particular topics or conditions. Applications are subject to peer review and judged in open competition, with awards being made on the basis of the importance of the topic to patients and health and care services, value for money and scientific quality.

Grouped Questions: 221620
Q
Asked by Chris Ruane
(Vale of Clwyd)
[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 14 February 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Microbiology
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the use of microbiota assessments in the diagnosis of (a) ME/ CFS and (b) fibromyalgia.
A
Answered by: Caroline Dinenage
Answered on: 19 February 2019

The Department funds research through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). The NIHR welcomes funding applications for research into any aspect of human health, including diagnosis for myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) and fibromyalgia. It is not usual practice to ring-fence funds for particular topics or conditions. Applications are subject to peer review and judged in open competition, with awards being made on the basis of the importance of the topic to patients and health and care services, value for money and scientific quality.

Diagnosing both ME/CFS and fibromyalgia can be difficult as there is no specific diagnostic test that can be used, and the symptoms can vary from person to person. Diagnosis is usually made by taking a medical history, checking symptoms and carrying out a physical examination. Other tests may be used to rule out medical conditions with similar symptoms. The NIHR has funded projects on ME/CFS and fibromyalgia totalling £4.3 million in the last five years (£2.5 million for ME/CFS and £1.8 million for fibromyalgia) some of which relate to educating general practitioners about diagnosis.

Q
Asked by Wera Hobhouse
(Bath)
Asked on: 06 February 2019
Home Office
Children: Protection
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of child protection procedures on families affected by myalgic encephalomyelitis.
A
Answered by: Victoria Atkins
Answered on: 14 February 2019

The Department for Education has made no recent assessments of the impact of child protection procedures on families affected by myalgic encephalomyelitis.

Local authorities must undertake enquiries if they believe a child has suffered or is likely to suffer significant harm and decide if any action must be taken under section 47 of the Children Act 1989. Working Together to Safeguard Children (2018) sets out the parameters and principles of high quality child protection assessments and procedures. The local authority is under a duty to safeguard and promote the child’s welfare and child protection decisions are based on the professional judgement of social workers and the circumstances of the individual child. The Equality Act 2010 is clear that all institutions, including local authorities, cannot discriminate on the basis of protected characteristics, including disability.

The Government is undertaking wide-ranging reforms to improve the quality of social work practice and decision-making, including through assessment and accreditation against Knowledge and Skills Statements, which are also the post qualifying standards for child and family social work.

Q
Asked by Frank Field
(Birkenhead)
Asked on: 07 February 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Medical Treatments
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking in response to the resolution of the House of 24 January 2019 on appropriate ME treatment.
A
Answered by: Steve Brine
Answered on: 14 February 2019

The Government is investing over £1.7 billion a year in health research through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and the Medical Research Council (MRC). Since 2011, the MRC has funded seven research projects totalling £2.62 million, following a call for proposals to help increase the understanding of the mechanisms of chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME). CFS/ME research remains an area of high strategic importance for the MRC. Applications are encouraged in response to MRC’s Science Boards and Panels under a Cross-Board highlight notice, in place since 2003 and updated in 2011.

On 20 September 2017, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) announced its decision to undertake a full update of the guideline, ‘Chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (or encephalopathy): Diagnosis and management of CFS/ME in adults and children’, following a review of the latest available evidence on the diagnosis and management of CFS/ME and a public consultation. New guidance is expected in October 2020. More information on this decision can be found at the following link:

www.nice.org.uk/news/article/nice-to-begin-review-of-its-guidance-on-the-diagnosis-and-treatment-of-cfs-me

In terms of training, the General Medical Council sets out the knowledge, skills and behaviours that new United Kingdom medical graduates must be able to demonstrate and Royal Medical Colleges, such as the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) set the standards for postgraduate medical education in general practice. General practice is where most patients with CFS/ME are likely to be managed, and the condition is identified as a key area of clinical knowledge in the RCGP Applied Knowledge Test (AKT) content guide. The AKT is a summative assessment of the knowledge base that underpins general practice in the United Kingdom within the context of the NHS and is a key part of GPs’ qualifying exams.

Finally, regarding concerns about the wellbeing of children; we recognise that chronic medical conditions, such as ME, can put a strain on the child and their family. Whilst the Department for Education would want to avoid action that would add to the strain, it is right that children’s services should be prepared to assess the needs of children who may be at risk. It is important that the assessment of a child is conducted on a multi-agency basis, and takes account of any medical condition the child may have.

In July 2018, the Department for Education published an updated version of its statutory safeguarding guidance, ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’. This includes guidance on how assessments should be conducted, and sets out new local multi-agency procedures. Health services are one of the core local safeguarding partners.

Q
Asked by Tom Brake
(Carshalton and Wallington)
Asked on: 05 February 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Research
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has to allocate additional funding to support biomedical research into the diagnosis and treatment of myalgic encephalomyelitis.
A
Answered by: Caroline Dinenage
Answered on: 13 February 2019

The National Institute for Health Research welcomes funding applications for research into any aspect of human health, including myalgic encephalomyelitis; it is not usual practice to ring-fence funds for particular topics or conditions. Applications are subject to peer review and judged in open competition, with awards being made on the basis of the importance of the topic to patients and health and care services, value for money and scientific quality.

Q
Asked by Robert Halfon
(Harlow)
Asked on: 28 January 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Research
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to support biomedical research into the diagnosis and treatment of ME.
A
Answered by: Caroline Dinenage
Answered on: 04 February 2019

The National Institute for Health Research welcomes funding applications for research into any aspect of human health, including myalgic encephalomyelitis; it is not usual practice to ring-fence funds for particular topics or conditions. Applications are subject to peer review and judged in open competition, with awards being made on the basis of the importance of the topic to patients and health and care services, value for money and scientific quality.

Q
Asked by Wera Hobhouse
(Bath)
Asked on: 23 January 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Research
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent funding has been made available for research into myalgic encephalomyelitis.
A
Answered by: Caroline Dinenage
Answered on: 31 January 2019

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), on behalf of the Department, funded £1,495,363 of programme research on myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), also known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), over the last three financial years (up to 2017/18). Further information on this research is available through the NIHR Journals Library at the following link:

https://www.journalslibrary.nihr.ac.uk/programmes/

The NIHR welcomes funding applications for research into any aspect of human health, including ME/CFS; it is not usual practice to ring-fence funds for particular topics or conditions. Applications are subject to peer review and judged in open competition, with awards being made on the basis of the importance of the topic to patients and health and care services, value for money and scientific quality.

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