Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Long Covid: Health Services

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 16th December 2021.

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Photo of Alex Sobel Alex Sobel Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that NHS staff providing medical and personal care to ME and long covid patients are aware of the harmful impact of inappropriate exercise, over-exertion and exposure to light, sound, touch and new environments on those patients.

Photo of Gillian Keegan Gillian Keegan Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is the independent body responsible for developing guidance for the health and care system. NICE published its updated guideline on the diagnosis and management of myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) on 29 October 2021, which contains recommendations on energy management, rest and sleep. Additionally, the guideline advises that discussions should take place with those who require inpatient care on whether any aspects of the location of their care could cause difficulties, including environmental factors such as lighting, sound, heating and smells. NICE is working with system partners to support the implementation of the guideline for ME/CFS. The full guidance is available at the following link:

https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng206

The NICE guideline for the long-term effects of COVID-19 considers careful self-pacing of exercise to be an important element of self-management. However, NICE concluded that in the absence of evidence relating to those with ongoing symptoms, it could not make specific recommendations. It has agreed to include a research recommendation to determine the effectiveness of exercise interventions for this population.

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