I sympathise profoundly with anyone affected by ME. It is a highly complex condition affecting around 21,000 people in Scotland and I believe it is vital that patients receive the best treatment and care that takes account of their particular needs.
I also pay tribute to the work undertaken by groups such as the ME Association, Action for ME and the Young ME Sufferers Trust, who provide support and advice to people living with the condition and campaign for change.
As you may be aware, health is a devolved matter in Scotland. I welcome that my colleagues in the Scottish Parliament have called for direct funding of biomedical research into ME and have raised issues around the education of healthcare professionals at all levels so that they can adequately diagnose, treat and manage ME. I also support calls to improve education on these issues for employers, teachers, lecturers and other relevant authorities so that sufferers of ME are not unfairly disadvantaged.
I appreciate that ME and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) are serious conditions that remain poorly understood. I therefore believe that both the Scottish and the UK Governments, as well as public services, need to take this into account and improve knowledge and treatment of these conditions.
I will work with colleagues – in both the UK and Scottish Parliaments – to highlight this important cause, to challenge the stigmatisation of CFS and ME and to work harder to provide better diagnosis and treatment for all.