The Health Minister comments on Covid-19, ME, rehabilitation & NICE


The Health Minister Vaughan Gething has replied to the letter WAMES sent to him on International ME Awareness Day highlighting the links between Covid-19, PVFS and ME, and requesting a combined strategy for care.  We note that the forthcoming guidance on rehabilitation “will not be condition specific” so WAMES will be ensuring rehabilitation practitioners are informed about the dangers of exercise intolerance for people with ME, PVFS and potentially Covid-19 survivors.


4 June 2020

Dear Jan,

Thank you for your letter of 13 May regarding the care for people with COVID-19 and ME, and calling for a strategy to recognise and treat illnesses triggered by all viruses. I note this letter was also issued to Andrew Goodall. [DG of NHS Wales]

The Welsh Government recognises the important role that effective rehabilitation has in reducing the physical, psychological, emotional, social and economic impacts of both COVID-19 and non COVID-19 related illness. That is why we are developing national guidance to assist service planning for the anticipated demand for rehabilitation and recovery of both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 populations in adults and children.

This work is being undertaken by the multi-professional, multi-sector Rehabilitation Task and Finish group and is currently in the process of being finalised. Two specific rehabilitation frameworks will underpin this: one identifying rehabilitation needs for those recovering from COVID-19 and one for the wider population with continuing or new rehabilitation needs. Rehabilitation focusses on the impact for the person and ways of resolving those impacts, rather than the condition that causes the impact and so the rehabilitation guidance and frameworks will not be condition specific.

With regards to NICE guidance, the Welsh Government has previously acknowledged your concerns regarding this and I reiterate that NICE guidance remains extant and should be followed by clinicians in Wales until such time that they are revoked or replaced.

You have also requested that ME/CFS be added to the shielded list. The main criteria for inclusion in the shielded list is that people from this group would be more likely to have a significantly higher death rate as a direct consequence of their condition. There is no clear evidence that this is, or would be, anticipated to be the case for this group of individuals, and as such they have not been included. If in due course, significant evidence does emerge this will be considered by the Chief Medical Officers across the four Nations.

Finally, the Welsh Government proposal to combine persistent pain, arthritis, ME/CFS and fibromyalgia into one advisory group will support both common approaches to these conditions where feasible, whilst also ensuring that condition specific approaches are maintained where required. However, we will review this approach as part of our wider approach to health and social care recovery from COVID-19.

Yours sincerely,

Vaughan Gething AS/MS
Y Gweinidog Iechyd a Gwasanaethau Cymdeithasol
Minister for Health and Social Services

CC: Andrew Goodall

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