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ME/CFS declassified as a mental illness in the UK

Friday 18 July 2008

Royal College of General PractitionersBritain’s Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has recently removed its classification of CFS as a “mental health disorder” after calls fromThe ME Association(MEA) for the RCGP to reconsider its position.

The MEA has written an open letter about the decision:

The MEA is pleased to announce that we have been informed by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) that they will now remove their classification of CFS as a mental health disorder.

This follows a prolonged exchange of correspondence with the MEA on this issue ( and the fact that it was also raised in House of Lords questions to Lord Darzi in June, and at the APPG meeting in July.

This is an important precedent in that it will now be very difficult for anyone in a position of authority to claim that CFS (or ME or CFS) can be classified or officially listed as a mental health disorder.

The MEA will still be meeting the RCGP to discuss the wider issue of diagnosis and management of the illness in primary care.

Thanks to both the Countess of Mar for securing time in the House of Lords for questions on ME/CFS to Lord Darzi in June and to Baroness Howe for asking about the RCGP classification (

The relevant part of the email from Ruth Palmer, Director of Professional Development and Standards at the RCGP, states:

Dear Dr Shepherd

I am pleased to inform you that the Curriculum Development Group and Postgraduate Training Board have now debated the views expressed about the reference to CFS/ME in the Mental Health statement and have agreed to remove the reference from the statement. It was not felt necessary to insert a specific reference to CFS/ME elsewhere in the curriculum, eg under Neurological Problems, because the curriculum takes a largely generic approach and does not specify every possible condition.

We remain happy to have a meeting with you and I am sorry that it has taken so long to arrange this.

Yours sincerely

Ruth Palmer
Director, Professional Development & Standards
Royal College of General Practitioners
14 Princes Gate, Hyde Park
London SW7 1PU


You can read more about it onThe ME Association’s website:

The ME Association: RCGP agrees to stop classifying CFS as a mental health disorder (external link)

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