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APPG FAQ on FM

What is an All Party Parliamentary Group?

An All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) consists of backbench Members of the House of Commons and/or House of Lords from more than one political party and is established to examine issues that are non-contentious in party political terms.  An APPG can draw attention to certain aspects of public affairs and assist in keeping the Government informed of parliamentary opinion.  It may also act as a pressure-group to promote a specific cause, such as fibromyalgia.  An APPG is not controlled by the party whips and each Group must have a minimum of 20 parliamentarians from both the government party and the official opposition with Officers elected annually.

What is the purpose of the APPG on fibromyalgia?

To raise awareness of the condition amongst opinion formers and decision makers at Westminster and the wider community.

What is the relationship between FMA UK and the APPG on fibromyalgia?

FMA UK and the APPG work closely together but the APPG does not belong to FMA UK.  The APPG exists solely to raise awareness amongst MPs of fibromyalgia issues with input from FMA UK.

How do MPs know about the APPG?

APPG meetings and events are advertised within Parliament and MPs will sign up to those APPGs of interest to them.  They can also be asked by members of their constituencies to represent them at an APPG.

How do MPs sign up to the APPG on fibromyalgia?

Interested MPs should contact Rob Wilson’s PA and register their interest.  MPs must then re-sign annually at the AGM.  We have heard of many MPs who think they are signed up but whose membership has expired.

 

 

 


How can we encourage our MPs to join the APPG?

 

You do not have to struggle to London to get your MP involved, it would be far better to talk to them at one of their local surgeries where you will have more time and a one to one consultation where you can explain the problems you face living with FM.

Ideally, fibromyalgia suffers should contact their MP asking them to attend an APPG meeting.  You can raise specific issues with your local MP that you would like to be raised either at an APPG meeting or in the House of Commons.  The MP attends an APPG to find out more about Fibromyalgia.  Having convinced the MP of the worthiness of our cause, he/she may well write to the Department of Health and/or table questions in the House urging the government to look again at how the NHS responds to sufferers of fibromyalgia and what advice is available etc., therefore making health professionals aware of the disease.

It is said of APPGs that they flourish or wane according to the interests and enthusiasm of members.  Another reason why we need to get our MPs involved if we want our APPG to ‘flourish’.

How are MPs invited to an APPG?

For an AGM, invitations are sent to all MPs and Peers but for a general APPG only those MPs who have signed up as members receive invitations.  This is why it is so important for MPs to be persuaded to join.  Also those MPs who are members, but unable to attend, will receive copies of minutes of all meetings.

How can a member of the public get involved?

You can raise specific issues with your local MP that you would like him/her to take on board and take action on your behalf.

What is the APPG on fibromyalgia NOT?

The APPG is not a forum for discussion for sufferers or the Medical Advisory Board (MAB), rather it is a tool to bring Fibromyalgia to the attention of the MPs and to inform them of how best to help their constituents.  Discussions have to focus on what the MPs are interested in learning and hearing about fibromyalgia.

Does the Medical Advisory Board belong to FMA UK or the APPG?

Initially it was thought that the MAB was to be part of the APPG but in practice it is FMA UK who invites professionals to join the MAB, after discussion with existing MAB members.   Both FMA UK and the MAB work closely with the APPG on Fibromyalgia but the APPG does not own the MAB.

The rules governing the APPG can be found here.

 

 

 


What is the message from the APPG?

 

Recent e-petitions on the No. 10 Downing Street website have raised the question of treatments and the government responses have indicated that it is up to each Primary Care Trust (PCT) to decide priorities for their area but, without clear national guidance, fibromyalgia mostly slips to the bottom of the list, if it is considered at all.

Rob Wilson, Chair of the APPG on Fibromyalgia said that “The response [by the Government] is symptomatic of the challenge we face with the whole campaign.  The Government can fob us off until the cows come home unless one or both of the following occur:

1. We pressure our local MPs individually to encourage them to join the fibromyalgia campaign.

2. We persuade the media to take an interest and highlight fibromyalgia.

Is my MP a signed up member of the APPG on fibromyalgia?

This is a question we are often asked and one that is difficult to answer.  As explained in Q1, each APPG must have a minimum of 20 parliamentarians from both the government party and the official opposition and the names of these 20 can be found at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmallparty/register/memi301.htm.  We do not have access to other MPs who may be members and the best way to find out if your MP has joined is to ask them.

What is the purpose of International Awareness Day Coffee Mornings?

The Coffee Mornings which are held on May 12th each year are not APPG meetings.  Their purpose is to invite as many MPs as possible to attend to convince them that we need their support to push for better diagnosis, management and research into fibromyalgia.  This is the reason we need a lot more MPs to attend as without their help we will not have such a strong voice.  Of course we need sufferers to attend as well to speak with the MPs as it is important for us to get our message across to help them understand what it’s like to live with fibromyalgia.

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