Lightning Process

Oral Answers to Questions — Health – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 10th February 2009.

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Photo of Celia Barlow Celia Barlow Labour, Hove 2:30 pm, 10th February 2009

What guidance his Department has issued to NHS trusts on the use of the lightning process in the treatment of people diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome.

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Photo of Phil Hope Phil Hope Minister of State (Care Services; Minister for the East Midlands), Department of Health

The Department has issued no guidance on this process, because we expect decisions on clinical interventions, whether they involve complementary or alternative treatments, to be made by front-line clinicians. In making such decisions, clinicians will take into account evidence for the safety and clinical and cost-effectiveness of the treatment concerned.

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Photo of Celia Barlow Celia Barlow Labour, Hove

I thank my hon. Friend for his reply. Sussex ME and Chronic Fatigue Society works tirelessly to assist the 6,000 adults and children across the county who suffer from the disease, and several of those people have been contacted about the success of the lightning treatment. Will he assess that treatment, in conjunction with the bodies that he has mentioned, and monitor how successful it is?

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Photo of Phil Hope Phil Hope Minister of State (Care Services; Minister for the East Midlands), Department of Health

It is not for the Department to undertake that activity. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, the independent body, issues guidance on the use of such treatments, and that guidance is the subject of a judicial review this week. It is to that independent body that those patients and organisations should make their representations, so that it can make the appropriate recommendations on the use of such treatments.

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Photo of Graham Stuart Graham Stuart Conservative, Beverley and Holderness

I agree with the Minister that treatments such as these should not be performed on the NHS until independent medical evidence has been obtained to show their efficacy. Will he tell the House how much is spent by the NHS on chronic fatigue syndrome?

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Photo of Phil Hope Phil Hope Minister of State (Care Services; Minister for the East Midlands), Department of Health

I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman's support for a way of working in the national health service that has widespread support on both sides of the House and throughout the country. I do not have the figures that he requests to hand, but I will write to him in due course.

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Photo of David Tredinnick David Tredinnick Conservative, Bosworth

Is the Minister aware that herbal medicines—[Hon. Members: "Hear, hear!"] I have written to him about the fact that, if he does not introduce statutory regulation of herbal medicine practitioners by the time the herbal medicinal products directive is implemented in 2011, there will be no proper regulation whatever. What is he going to do about that?

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Photo of Phil Hope Phil Hope Minister of State (Care Services; Minister for the East Midlands), Department of Health

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question. This is a serious issue that many people are concerned about. We will be undertaking a consultation on the future regulation of herbal medicines in the near future.

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