The ME/CFS guideline published by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) defines the treatment that people with ME receive. The guideline is currently being re-written, but until it is finalised outdated and harmful recommendations remain in place.
In England and Wales the NHS is obliged to follow NICE guidelines, and in Scotland and Northern Ireland they are the primary source used by health professionals. In reality, NICE guidelines have an impact on how people with ME are treated across the world.
We work to create meaningful change by engaging in the formal consultation procedures NICE undertakes while updating a guideline, and by adding external pressure to demand the most pressing changes for people with ME are made in the shortest possible time.
Latest News About NICE
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have released a document entitled “interim findings”, stating that the recommendation of graded exercise therapy for mild and moderate ME/CFS should not apply to people with fatigue following COVID-19. They note that the existing guideline was published in 2007, many years before the pandemic, and that they are aware of concerns around graded exercise therapy.
At the end of April, #MEAction UK sent the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) a six-metre-long card containing thousands of your names and messages describing the harm caused by graded exercise therapy (GET). NICE continues to recommend graded exercise therapy in their existing ME/CFS guidelines, whilst these are under review. Despite #MEAction
In light of an oncoming wave of people experiencing post-viral complications and potentially post-viral ME, telling our story is more important than ever. “I would expect that people who have Covid-19 symptoms quite severely, of those, I would expect about 10% to have fatigue-like syndromes after 6 months, given current evidence.” – Professor Chris Ponting,
#MEAction UK and NICE
- Repeatedly presented NICE with evidence proving the harm being done by GET
- Campaigned to end harmful treatments now
- Responded to consultations with detailed reviews of the research base around ME
- Campaigned to ensure that NICE takes appropriate action to address the conflicts of interest of certain members of the guideline development committee
- Surveyed UK people with ME evidencing the failings of current specialist services
- Coordinated grassroots actions giving people with ME a voice in the NICE process
NICE PUBLISH CLINICAL GUIDANCE ON CFS/ME
NICE published clinical guidance on diagnosis and management of ME/CFS.
NICE decides not to update CFS/ME guideline
NICE took the initial decision to keep their CFS/ME guideline on the static list meaning the guideline would not be updated.
Public Pressure Forces NICE To Agree To Update Guideline
#MEAction UK submitted a detailed response to the decision not to update the guideline, demanding it be fully rewritten. Under pressure from MPs (EDM271) and every patient organisation in the UK, NICE agreed to fully update the guidance.
Stakeholder Engagement Workshops
After the initial draft scope for the new guideline is published, NICE held two workshops in 2018 looking at the draft scope for the new guideline on ME/CFS. #MEAction UK sent two representatives, with a key aim of ensuring objective outcomes would be used by the committee when assessing evidence.
The Final Scope is Published
Having been revised based on stakeholder feedback, the final scoping document is published, defining what will be covered by the updated guideline. #MEAction UK analyses the improvements, inaccuracies and omissions in this final document.
Deep Concerns At NICE Committee Conflicts Of Interest
NICE announced membership of the committee who would rewrite the ME/CFS guideline, creating deep concern at some members’ conflicts of interest. Coordinated by #MEAction UK, 2000 people with ME, carers and allies wrote to NICE outlining their concerns.
Survey Demonstrates Serious Harm from GET and CBT
In response to a request from the NICE committee, the Forward ME Group, including #MEAction UK, commissioned a survey by Oxford Brookes University. The results demonstrated that graded exercise therapy (GET) and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) have caused serious harm, with over two thirds of respondents reporting deterioration in their physical health after undergoing GET.
NICE drag their feet on harm caused by GET
#MEAction UK continued working to hold NICE to account and urged them to take action now to prevent the harm of hundreds more before the updated guideline is published.
NICE Calls for Evidence
NICE’s ME/CFS guideline committee called for evidence on management strategies that are adopted while someone is being assessed for a diagnosis of ME/CFS, methods of monitoring and/or reviewing people with a diagnosis of ME/CFS and the experience of people who have had interventions for ME/CFS.
#MEAction UK submitted a detailed response and launched a survey investigating people with ME’s experiences of services in the UK.
Survey Finds UK Specialist Me Services Not Fit For Purpose
#MEAction UK survey of 1900 people with ME found that UK specialist ME services are not fit for purpose. 83.3% of respondents felt their local service should be adapted or closed and rebuilt with patient input. The results were submitted to NICE as part of our response to their call for evidence.
NICE Guideline Publication Delayed To December 2020
The publication date for the ME/CFS guideline is delayed from October 2020 to December 2020.
NICE Suspend All Work On Guideline Due To COVID-19
Work on updating the ME/CFS guideline is delayed again due to the coronavirus pandemic. Despite this, NICE refuses to add a warning to current guideline – in place since 2007 – about graded exercise therapy.
Thousands say do no harm – #TakeMESeriously
Thousands add their name to a 6-metre-long card demanding NICE take ME seriously, and issue a warning on graded exercise therapy. #MEAction UK warns NICE of an oncoming wave of people with post-COVID symptoms that could develop into ME.
NICE makes statement on GET AND post-COVID fatigue
NICE added a statement to the ME/CFS guideline clarifying that the recommendation of graded exercise therapy for ME should not be assumed to apply to people with fatigue post-COVID. While this was a welcome step, it did not go far enough.
Open Letter to Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
Following the NICE statement, #MEAction UK redoubled its efforts to stop people with ME being prescribed GET. We sent an open letter to Matt Hancock MP asking him to ensure that all government advice for people with ME, and those at risk of developing ME post-COVID, warns of the harm from GET. We added to the pressure with a campaign that resulted in over 240 MPs being emailed by their constituents asking them to also take action and contact Matt Hancock.