Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Questions (455, 456, 458, 459, 460, 461)

John Lahart

Question:

455. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Health the criteria used here to diagnose the neurological disease myalgic encephalomyelitis (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22023/19]

View answer

John Lahart

Question:

456. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Health his plans to develop guidelines for myalgic encephalomyelitis relevant to Ireland; if contemporary research will be referenced in relation to same rather than relying on same from the UK; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22024/19]

View answer

John Lahart

Question:

458. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Health if he will instruct the HSE to develop a clear pathway of care for persons with ME with prompt access to specialists and treatments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22026/19]

View answer

John Lahart

Question:

459. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Health his plans to address the lack of specialist consultants for myalgic encephalomyelitis; his views on whether ME is a multisystem disease involving many areas with many debilitating symptoms which require patients to see many consultants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22027/19]

View answer

John Lahart

Question:

460. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Health if he will designate myalgic encephalomyelitis as a reportable health condition in order to obtain robust official collection of data on the number of children, young persons and adults with the condition and the degrees of severity of the condition; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22028/19]

View answer

John Lahart

Question:

461. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Health if he will instruct the HSE to update its diagnostic and treatment procedures for persons with myalgic encephalomyelitis to reflect best international practice; if he will address the lack of specialist support within the health service for those suffering with the condition; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22029/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 455, 456, and 458 to 461, inclusive, together.

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) / myalgic encephalomyelitis (or encephalopathy) (ME) is a not uncommon, complex debilitating disorder which is characterised by severe fatigue accompanied by a range of other symptoms.

There is currently no known, specific, medical diagnostic test to determine or confirm a correct diagnosis of ME and no specific treatment which works for all sufferers is currently available. Assessment and interventions need to be tailored to the individual. There are assessments/tests which can be carried out in primary care settings by a General Practitioner. Specialised tests may be required when considering differential diagnoses.

Treatment for ME is tailored to address the varying symptoms presented by those affected by ME. In general, these treatments are delivered within the context of primary care, with referrals into secondary care for specialist interventions in the areas of Neurology, Rheumatology, Pain Specialists, Endocrinology, Immunology, Cardiology, etc. The challenge in relation to ME is that it does not sit within one specialty, but crosses a number of specialties, with patients attending different consultants for management of symptoms as they arise.

Waiting times for access to these services can be lengthy. However, there is currently work under way as part of the implementation of the Strategy for the Design of Integrated Outpatient Services 2016-2020, specifically as regards addressing how and where the patient is treated and the classification of referrals with corresponding clinically recommended time-frames. Consideration is also being given to condition specific referral forms. This work should see significant improvements with respect to access to appropriate services.

Question No. 457 answered with Question No. 454.
Questions Nos. 458 to 561, inclusive, answered with Question No. 455.