ME Association blog post, by Dr Charles Shepherd, 21 August 2016: ME Association challenges Pulse Learning’s classification of ME/CFS as a mental health disorder 

The ME Association has today asked the medical education website Pulse Learning to remove Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) from its classification as a mental health disorder. Pulse Learning has just published a new learning module on CFS and listed it in its mental health section.

Our medical adviser, Dr Charles Shepherd, has sent this email to Pulse Learning:
Dear Pulse Learning

Re Case based learning on CFS:

I am not currently registered with PULSE to do your CPD learning modules and have not therefore gone through this new learning module on ME/CFS.

I am, however, very concerned to see that this module has been incorrectly inserted into the ‘mental health’ section of your learning modules.

As I am sure the authors of the module are aware, ME is classified as a neurological disease by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in their International Classification of Diseases (>> ICD10 section G93:3) and that this WHO neurological classification is accepted by the Department of Health, NHS etc. CFS is linked to this ME classification in ICD10.

In addition, the most recent report – Beyond Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – on ME/CFS from the Institute of Medicine in America states quite clearly that ME/CFS (or systemic exertion intolerance disease/SEID – as they have recommended as a new name for ME/CFS) is not a psychological or psychiatric condition. It is a complex multisystem medical disease.

IoM Report:

There are obviously disagreements and uncertainties surrounding many aspects of ME/CFS.

However, if GPs are going to immediately start off by working on the incorrect basis that they are dealing with a mental health/psychiatric condition, this will not only lead to conflict with patients. It will also lead to inappropriate and possibly harmful advice on management.

I will try and look at the module during the coming week.

In the meantime, please could it be inserted into a section covering neurological and/or immunological disease – where it belongs.

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