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M.E. costs UK economy over £3 billion

September 28, 2017

M.E. cost the UK economy at least £3.3 billion in 2014/15, according to a research report published today.

The figures account for healthcare costs, disability-related welfare payments, productivity losses and unpaid informal care.

Funded by the Optimum Health Clinic Foundation, and undertaken by the 2020health thinktank, the Counting the cost report refers to the condition as “the health scandal of our generation.”

At the launch of the report in London this morning, attending by our Head of Communications and Policy, Clare Ogden, Chair of the Optimum Health Clinic Foundation, David Butcher, shared his personal experience of M.E., and explained the rationale for funding this study.

“We need to understand every detail of these costs, to provide a solid platform on which to have a sensible debate,” he said. “We also need a sense of urgency for research to prevent the lives of those with M.E. being needlessly wasted.”

Presenting an overview of her team’s findings, 2020health’s Julia Manning highlighted the considerable disparity of NHS spending on M.E. compared to other chronic, debilitating conditions. “A stronger commitments to research is needed in recognition of the substantial costs of CFS/M.E. to the UK,” she concluded.

Penny Mordant MP, Minister of State for the Department for Work and Pensions, commended the report, and spoke in more general terms about the challenges facing those with long-term conditions.

“Conditions which are hard to diagnose, are fluctuating, are hidden, are a massive challenge to great big governmental systems,” she said. “How do we offer personalised support to an individual? We will fail if we try and fit them into an existing system. Good quality, early interventions are key to building support which is sustainable, to really anticipate what someone needs.”

The report described its research as “a comprehensive UK cost-of-illness study of CFS/M.E., based on recorded patient data from both specialised services and primary care...with little data on welfare payments received by recruited patients, we also contacted the DWP for estimates on ESA and PIP payments to people with CFS/M.E. as a primary disabling condition. According to our weighted analysis, the total cost to the UK economy of CFS/M.E. in 2014/15 was at least £3.3 billion.”