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 recognise that, and I also recognise how stretched our national health service is more generally and the need for us to have that specialist help as early as possible. One thing that is becoming clear is that the delay in diagnosis allows the condition to get worse, which adds to the cost of treating it further down the line. Anything that can be done to speed up the diagnosis will have many economic benefits, as well as medical ones, down the line.

While the suffering and economic cost of treating and supporting fibromyalgia sufferers is so large and the knowledge base on what causes it and how to treat it is so small, this is an area that is ripe for further research. In the Library note we received before the debate, we were told that in the past five years, funding applications for around £1.8 million worth of research were approved. In a single year—I appreciate why this is a false comparison, but it provides some context none the less—the UK spends over £400 million on cancer research. Of course, I do not for a second underestimate the value of research into cancer, but given the problems that fibromyalgia causes and how long patients will live with it, surely we should be spending more than 0.5% of the investment into cancer research on researching the grave and widespread menace that is fibromyalgia.