Friday, 16 November 2007

M.E., NICE and me.

Anyone remember this?

The 'yuppie flu' tag has raised its head once again in today's papers.

Let's get one thing straight. I haven't seen these NICE (National Institute of Clinical Excellence, my foot) guidelines. I'm only going on what I've heard and read. Back in August, when I wrote the Dear Sir blog, it seemed that they were a positive thing. The media reported that NICE were demanding that M.E. be treated more seriously by the medical profession. A step forward I'm sure you'll agree. However, today it has emerged that their definition of treatment is the use of largely psychological therapies. It should be noted that I have no issue with the graded exercise also recommended, provided that it is carried out by well-informed, caring practitioners and that it does not become a license to bully sufferers.

The main reason for this information coming to light now appears to be that the One Click Group (a pressure group, although I'm not exactly sure what that is!) are taking NICE to court in an attempt to get the policy rewritten. They argue that NICE's guidelines imply that M.E. is all in the mind. If that is indeed the case then they are right to challenge the institute. M.E. has psychological elements tied up in it, all long-term illnesses do. It's hardly surprising for a patient with 10 years of misery behind them to experience some sort of depression. The important distinction to make is that the psychological treatments are for the depression, not the M.E. Psychological therapies have their place but are not a valid treatment of the very real, physical side of M.E.

The most grating thing about this whole debacle from my point of view is the use, once again, of the term 'yuppie flu'. It should be banned. It is referring to a group of people in a derogatory manner. You wouldn't get away with it if the group were defined by their religion, race, gender or sexuality. There is no reason that the media should be permitted to be so openly insulting to people united in the suffering of a serious illness.

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