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MPs debate fibromyalgia after Chesterfield woman's petition

January 16, 2019 4:15 PM

A debate has been held in parliament about a chronic pain condition after a petition attracted more than 115,000 signatures.

Toby Perkins, MP for Chesterfield, organised the debate along with constituent and fibromyalgia campaigner Adrienne Lakin.

She launched the petition calling for more funding and support for sufferers. Mr Perkins said ministers had offered to meet him and campaigners to discuss further action.

Fibromyalgia is a long-term condition which causes widespread pain, fatigue and slows mental processes. Its causes are unknown but are believed to be linked to chemical changes in the brain and wider nervous system, sometimes triggered by a stressful event.

Some sufferers complain of slow or sceptical reactions from health professionals, employers and benefits officials.

During the debate at Westminster Hall a number of MPs and speakers pressed for faster and more consistent diagnosis and greater support.

Mr Perkins said: "It is sometimes called an 'invisible condition' as there are no outward signs. Often the symptoms are masked as other conditions, so sufferers go through many time-consuming treatments which don't get to the root of the problem."

The motion to back extra help for sufferers was passed unanimously.

Speaking after the debate, 26-year-old Ms Lakin said getting such support was a huge boost. "It is really phenomenal," she said. When there were 'ayes' all around the room I was in shock. I couldn't believe it. It's going to make a lot of changes to people's lives. I can't even put it into context yet what it is going to achieve."

Work and pensions minister Sarah Newton paid tribute to Ms Lakin's campaign. While insisting the benefits system did recognise fibromyalgia as a disability, she accepted more work needed to be done and invited campaigners to meet with her and other ministers for further talks.