Recognition of Fibromyalgia as a Disability — [Mr Adrian Bailey in the Chair]

Part of Backbench Business – in Westminster Hall at 9:30 am on 15th January 2019.

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Photo of Toby Perkins Toby Perkins Labour, Chesterfield 9:30 am, 15th January 2019

I beg to move,

That this House
has considered the recognition of fibromyalgia as a disability.

It is a pleasure to open the debate and to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Bailey. I am delighted that so many hon. Members have come to support the raising of awareness of a crucial issue. I thank the Backbench Business Committee for selecting the topic for debate, particularly Sir David Amess, for his support in obtaining and promoting the debate.

I want to pay tribute to two of my constituents, Adrienne and Leann Lakin of Chesterfield, and all the fibromyalgia campaigners who bang the drum relentlessly to ensure that sufferers’ voices are heard. Many intend to come to witness the debate. Their campaigning has been instrumental in persuading other hon. Members to attend or to speak out about fibromyalgia. I was proud to present a petition in Parliament, which reached more than 100,000 signatures on change.org, calling for fibromyalgia to be recognised as a disability and for greater awareness of and investment in treatment. I recognise that the context of the debate spans the responsibilities of both the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department of Health and Social Care, and I hope that the Minister will be able to pass on to her counterpart the topics raised in the debate that do not fall within her purview.

Many in this country are ignorant about what fibromyalgia is, but it is a condition that many people suffer from. It is one of a group of conditions often referred to as invisible illnesses, but sufferers live with its consequences every day of their lives.