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 do. My hon. Friend will be pleased to know that I will be hot-footing it from this debate to health questions, where I have tabled a question about diagnosis of fibromyalgia in general practice. Other hon. Members might wish to leap on the back of that question and make their own contributions, and the one that my hon. Friend has just made is powerful. There is variability of diagnosis, and I have met a number of different sufferers who have had different kinds of treatment and, as a result of the treatment they have had, present very differently now. That is something I have seen with my own eyes.

Even with all the medical advancements that have been made, fibromyalgia is a condition without a known cause or a known cure. There are many factors thought to contribute to the condition, including abnormal processing of pain due to chemical changes in the nervous system or imbalances in chemicals in the brain such as serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline. The condition often appears to run in families, suggesting that there is a genetic predisposition to it and, as we have just heard from Jonathan Edwards, stressful events can be a trigger.

Many people who are concerned that general practice training, which by its very nature is general, is inadequate on fibromyalgia and that that is a cause of the delays in diagnosis. The petition also calls for greater research into fibromyalgia. With over 70,000 diagnosed patients having made claims for PIP, it is clear that this is a widespread problem, but that number is estimated to understate the number of fibromyalgia sufferers by at least 90%.