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Action for ME and its latest links to the Insurance Industry

Discussion in 'General ME/CFS News' started by Daisymay, May 9, 2011.

  1. Daisymay

    Daisymay Senior Member

    Action for ME and its latest links to the Insurance Industry

    Margaret Williams 9th May 2011

    Disturbing evidence exists that the charity Action for ME (AfME) seems to be strengthening its links to the insurance industry, which may be to the potential detriment of people with ME/CFS (whose best interests the charity is required by The Charity Commission to represent).

    1. The appointment of Alan Cook CBE as Chairman of AfME

    On 8th February 2010 AfME announced that Alan Cook CBE was the charitys new Chairman. Sir Peter Spencer, CEO of AfME, said: Its great news that Alan is coming on board to contribute his experience to this forward thinking organisation. We will benefit hugely as he extends his fantastic track record for achieving success in all that he does.

    Alan Cook also happens to be Chairman of the insurance group that includes Irish Life & Permanent Group Holdings plc.

    An Occupational Health doctor who works for Irish Life is Dr Deidre Gleeson, and there is mounting evidence that she is recommending termination of benefit payments to Irish Life policy holders with severe ME/CFS who make claims on their income protection policies because they are simply unable to work.

    Can AfME not comprehend that it is not appropriate for it to have a Chairman with such an obvious conflict of interest, whose company is responsible for denying insurance benefits to people with ME/CFS?

    For AfME to be so closely linked to the insurance industry that has done so much harm to people with a devastating multi-system disorder must surely be a matter of concern.

    2. Allen & Overy LLP

    AfME has announced that it is to hold its Annual General Meeting and Open Conference on 22nd October 2011, and that this will take places at the London offices of the law firm Allen & Overy LLP.

    Allen & Overy is an international law firm that claims insurance law as one of its areas of expertise: Our International Insurance Groupadvises many of the worlds leading insurers (and) financial institutions.The group consists of lawyers with specialist insurance expertise, some of whom have spent part of their careers in the industry or with insurance regulators. This practical industry experience ensures that we are able to provide commercially driven legal advice. Our insurance lawyers workwith specialists from other market leading practices, such as corporate, capital markets, banking (and) litigation.As a result, our clients receive the best possible technical and commercial legal advice at both a domestic and international level.Practices within Insurance (include) Insurance advice for corporates (and) Insurance disputes.

    3. Professor Michael Sharpe

    Although not listed publicly, it is a matter of record that the charity secured the services of psychiatrist Professor Michael Sharpe as a medical advisor, and that he is deeply involved with the insurance industry (particularly with UNUMProvident) in the dismissal of income protection claims submitted by people with ME/CFS.

    In February 2000 a Conference on Insurance Medicine was held at The Royal College of Physicians in London, attended by Professors Simon Wessely and Michael Sharpe, at which it is believed Sharpe advised that he was recommending to insurance companies that claimants with ME/CFS should be subject to covert video surveillance.

    On 9th May 2001 Michael Sharpe appeared before the Cross Party Group on ME of Members of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, where he informed the meeting that the disorder is not a neurological disorder.

    Despite denials from Professor Sharpe that he has ever harmed CFS patients, there is evidence that such may not be the case; documented and detailed evidence of the consequences of inappropriate psychiatric intervention has been put before the Chief Medical Officer and is also variously recorded in Hansard. Patients with ME/CFS have been threatened with being sectioned under the Mental Health Act unless they agree to psychiatric interventions, and other kinds of harm include the refusal and/or withdrawal of state benefits; difficulty amounting to the impossibility of obtaining insurance payments, with policy holders being refused benefits; the withdrawal of cover by private health companies for those with ME/CFS (often on the grounds that no cover is available for psychiatric illness); an almost total lack of suitable provision or care by the NHS, with no facilities for specialist referral other than to a psychiatrist; an overtly hostile and unfavourable attitude being shown by doctors and other health professionals to those with ME/CFS and special problems for children and adolescents, with increasing numbers of young people being threatened with being removed from their parents and put into care (which has led to litigation).

    Perhaps a unique form of harm is to be found in the persistent recommendation by Wessely School psychiatrists that no investigations (or only limited investigations) are necessary and appropriate in patients with ME/CFS. Why are these psychiatrists so insistent that patients should not be medically investigated? As the Countess of Mar asked, where is their natural curiosity about this condition? Why should sufferers and those doctors who observe their suffering accept the limitations of scientific knowledge? These psychiatrists refer to a lack of proven causality, yet they actively advise that no investigations should be performed on patients with ME/CFS and that no research into its organic nature should be undertaken. Is it because they do not wish to know? (Hansard, Lords, 19 December 1998:1011-1024).

    AfME must surely be aware that Sharpe was one of the authors of the 1994 (CDC) Fukuda case definition and that the 1994 CDC case definition was unambiguous: The use of tests to diagnose the chronic fatigue syndrome should be done only in the setting of protocol-based research. In clinical practice, no additional tests, including laboratory tests and neuro-imaging studies, can be recommended. Examples of specific tests (which should not be done) include serologic tests for enteroviruses; tests of immunologic function, and imaging studies, including magnetic resonance imaging scans and radionuclide scans (such as single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) and positron emission tomography (PET) of the head. We consider a mental status examination to be the minimal acceptable level of assessment (Ann Int Med 1994:121:12:953-959).

    Professor Sharpe was one of the Principal Investigators of the notorious PACE Trial, and AfME was intimately involved with that trial and with the production of the Manuals used in the trial.

    It may be recalled that AfME received substantial Section 64 funding (Health Services Act 1968) in return for supporting Department of Health policy priorities (which currently include managing CFS/ME as a behavioural disorder).

    AfME members and those who fund-raise for it may wish to consider in whose best interest the charity is acting.
  2. Enid

    Enid Senior Member

    Wow ! - thanks for posting daisymay and thanks to Margaret Williams for watching. What's so peculiar about the psychiatric lobby is that the reasoning for their actions doesn't stand up.
  3. Daisymay

    Daisymay Senior Member

    For those in the US, "Action for ME" is supposed to be one of the UK's leading ME charities.......

    "About Us

    Action for M.E. is the UK's leading charity dedicated to improving the lives of people with M.E. We've been at the forefront of the campaign for more research, better treatments and services since 1987, and we provide information and support to people affected by M.E."

    In case of interest, you can see their involvement in the PACE trial in "Magical Medicine" by Professor Hooper, Section 3, pages 234 - 237, "Involvement of Action for ME in the PACE Trial":

    Do US ME/CFS charities have such links with health insurance companies?
  4. Daisymay

    Daisymay Senior Member

    AfME and the insurance issue

    Permission to repost

    Heather Walker, Communications Manager at Action for M.E. has issued the following request in response to Margaret Williams recent article, "Action for ME and its latest links to the Insurance Industry" :

    "Action for M.E.'s chairman is the father of a daughter with M.E. Our connection with Allen & Overy LLP is through Richard Evans, a partner in the London office, whose wife has had M.E. Richard has been a trustee for many years. Neither is involved in the charity to 'strengthen its links with the insurance industry' as has been suggested. Professor Michael Sharpe is not a medical advisor for Action for M.E.

    If you have reposted the misleading and inaccurate text below, please forward this correction.

    Thank you.

    Heather Walker
    Action for M.E."

    In response to Heather Walkers request that what she referred to as the grossly misleading article be corrected, Margaret Williams thinks it would be helpful if Heather would please answer the following questions:

    1. will she confirm or deny if, at any time in the past, Michael Sharpe has ever been an ad hoc medical advisor to the charity (the article did not say that he was currently a medical advisor)

    2. will she confirm or deny that Alan Cook CBE is Chairman of Irish Life & Permanent Group Holdings plc

    3. will she confirm or deny that Dr Deidre Gleeson, an Occupational Health doctor, examines and writes reports on people with ME/CFS for Irish Life and that she recommends that people with ME/CFS are fit to return to work and that benefits should not be paid to them

    4. will she confirm or deny that it is a self-evident conflict of interest for AfME to have as its Chairman a person who is also Chairman of an insurance company that appears to adopt a hostile position towards people with ME/CFS whom the charity is required to support

    5. will she confirm or deny that Allen & Overy's website states what was quoted in the article about the firm's expertise in insurance law

    6. will she confirm or deny that the quotation from the Annals of Internal Medicine 1994: 121:12:953-959 was accurate and that Michael Sharpe was one of the authors

    7. will she confirm or deny that Margaret Williams article made no mention of Dr Esther Crawley

    If her article was incorrect and the above points are publicly denied by AfME, then of course the article will be amended accordingly.

    It is noted that Horace Reid posted the following on Local ME: On 8th February 2010 AfME announced that Alan Cook CBE was the charity's new Chairman. Alan Cook is Chairman of the insurance group that includes Irish Life & Permanent Group Holdings plc.

    In a number of cases Irish Life is currently denying PHI benefit to ME patients on the spurious grounds that they cannot provide "objective evidence" of illness.

    In the Spring 2011 edition of "Interaction" (AfME's magazine) they ran an article denouncing insurers who engage in sharp practice with PHI clients who have ME.

    These contradictions are the latest example of corporate dyslexia within AfME.

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