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Scottish Goverment warns against GET and CBT for M.E.

October 16, 2020

The Scottish Government has written to M.E. organisations to highlight its recent updated advice cautioning against using graded exercise therapy (GET) and cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) for M.E., in advance of its promised 2021 review of good practice guidance for M.E.

This follows commitments given by the Cabinet Secretary in response to the Scottish Government’s Petitions Committee work on #MEAction’s petition, supported by Action for M.E., calling for more investment research, training and education of health care professionals and an end to GET.

Declan Doherty, Policy Manager for Neurological Conditions, Chronic Pain and Long-Term Conditions, says in the email we received yesterday:

“This commitment involved setting out healthcare professionals' training and education materials to reflect the latest scientific evidence in light of the forthcoming NICE review, and the Scottish Government has advised that people should not be pressed into accepting unwanted GET and CBT treatments."

He also refers to the Scottish Health Technologies Group’s rapid review on GET for M.E./CFS, undertaken in July, which concludes:

“The validity, applicability and certainty of positive findings around the effectiveness and safety of GET for symptom management in people with CFS/M.E. are extensively debated. Patient experience surveys indicate that over half of respondents find the intervention ineffective or detrimental."

The Scottish Government is writing to GPs and NHS Board Chief Executives in Scotland to ensure they are aware of these updates, which are also now noted by the Scottish Good Practice Statement (SGPS) on ME-CFS. Ministers have committed to reviewing the SGPS when the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) publishes its revised guideline for M.E. in April 2021.

The draft NICE guideline will be shared on Tuesday 10 November, with a six-week consultation period. Building on the insights and experiences of people with M.E. we gathered as part of our Big Survey, we will be consulting people with M.E. across the UK on the specifics within the draft to inform our detailed response. Please look out for more news about this in the coming weeks.