Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 5:34 pm on 23rd January 2002.

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Photo of Robin Harper Robin Harper Green 5:34 pm, 23rd January 2002

On behalf of Tommy Sheridan and myself, I congratulate Alex Fergusson on bringing the debate to the chamber. It has been extremely informative. Before the debate, I took the subject of ME seriously. I take it even more seriously now.

I will restrict my remarks to expressing one concern, which is about what happens to young people at school who are diagnosed with ME, or to those who suffer from ME but have not been officially diagnosed. In such cases, although the child has not been officially diagnosed, the parents might suspect that their child suffers from ME. Although I have no evidence to substantiate this, I suspect that there might be an inconsistency in local authorities' guidance on education provision for young people who suffer from ME. That might be because there is a tendency to live in hope—there is no hurry to take action when a child has ME because they might be back next month, in six months' time or after a year—but if a child suffers from ME, there is a great deal of urgency for the appropriate education to be given. From my experience, home education is a possibility; schools can arrange for work to be sent home. We need something more structured than that as soon as young people are suspected of suffering from ME, let alone diagnosed.