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U.K. Report of the CFS/ME Working Group
to the
Chief Medical Officer

A Report of the CFS/ME Working Group
Report to the Chief Medical Officer of an Independent Working Group


In 1998 the Working Group on CFS/ME set out to consider how the NHS might best provide care for people of all ages who have this complex illness.

We have approached the work in two stages. First, to listen to, and to try to understand, the patient and carer perspective on the very wide range of issues surrounding the management of the illness. Unsurprisingly, when so little is known about the cause of CFS/ME, there are concerns from patients and their representatives, and from a broad range of clinicians, over the way the illness is managed. These concerns on management apply to the NHS, to other government Departments and to the private sector. In particular, patients and health professionals involved in the care of CFS/ME find much disbelief about the nature of the illness and of its impact. Perhaps as a result, in many areas of the country there appears to be a lack of appropriate health care facilities.

In the second stage of our work, in which contributors from the Working Group were assisted by a Reference Group and many other commentators, we sought to bring together knowledge on CFS/ME to support initiatives to improve care for patients. This has been an intricate process, drawing on research evidence, the experience of patients and diverse clinical opinion. We were assisted in this endeavour by a systematic review of the evidence which was commissioned by the Department of Health. Although it was not always possible to resolve some of the differences of view, for perspectives and opinions on some issues ranged widely across the contributors in the Working Group, we have been able to bring together a Report which meets our brief of advising on ways of improving care for children, young people and adults with CFS/ME.

This is an illness that most clinicians will encounter, although to varying extents. We found that it can, and should, be approached and managed clinically like any other chronic illness. That is, it can be managed by drawing on evidence and knowledge of what works best for a particular group of patients, and by using the usual generic clinical skills for assessment, therapy and care, adapted to the particulars of the condition and of the individual patient.

The production of this report has been a complex and challenging task and considerable effort has been required to bring this Report together. Many people have given their time to this enterprise and I wish to record my thanks to all of them. I see this Report as one unique step in a process of improving care for people with CFS/ME. There is much to do. But I hope this Report may act as a means of assisting health care professionals and public and private services to begin that process.

Chairman of the Working Group

For more on the report, including organization and media comments, click here.


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Most recent revision Wednesday, September 11, 2002