Online blog Broadly highlights the fact that one in five children with ME are investigated by social services, with some even being forcibly placed in a hospital or foster homes, with destructive effects on their health.

Social services can threaten families of children with Chronic Fatigue, by Natasha Wynarczyk, May 2 2019

In the article WAMES’ medical advisor Dr Nigel Speight gives his view of the situation:

This is approaching a “national scandal,” according to Dr. Nigel Speight, a pediatrician from the North East of England who specializes in ME. Throughout his 30-year career, he has helped large numbers of families fight child protection cases where children with the condition have been at risk of removal from their parents. He says that anyone—including the child’s doctor, their teacher, and even a neighbor or relative—can get social services involved, and the decision to take a family to court often rests with people who have never even met the children…

“Many doctors these days don’t take proper case histories,” Speight says. “They are focused on ordering tests—but you can diagnose ME in an hour if you properly investigate the patient’s history. Either through ignorance or wilful avoidance, many doctors fail to make the diagnosis.”

“you can diagnose ME in an hour if you properly investigate the patient’s history”

“In some cases of GET, children with ME are being told to increase their energy levels by 10 per cent a week—if I did this, I’d be an Olympic athlete,” Speight says. He adds that when families complain that the child is being made more ill, they can be told to “push through the pain.”

“One of the most heartbreaking cases I’ve dealt with was an eight-year-old girl who was forced to have GET,” he adds. “Her parents were told that if they didn’t comply, she’d be taken away [by social services].

“Her parents reluctantly allowed her to be admitted to hospital where she was given vigorous physiotherapy for several months. She was able to walk before being admitted, but after she deteriorated to the extent that she became bed-bound and needed to be fed via a tube.”

He adds that while he may have an “unduly pessimistic view” of the situation due to his involvement in many of the worst cases around the UK, these may be the tip of the iceberg. For every family who have involvement with social services, he says, there are many others subjected to “disbelief and pressure, especially around school attendance”.

Read the full article

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