BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Programmes: Panorama: Archive  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Archive Wednesday, 10 November, 1999, 19:06 GMT
Sick and Tired November 8 1999

Sick and Tired
Monday 8 November 1999
Reporter Matthew Hill
Producer Fiona Campbell


In 2001 the Broadcasting Standards Commission upheld two complaints against this programme. For the BSC's summary of its findings, click here

Panorama reveals the results of an exclusively commissioned survey which shows children are being pressurised into accepting psychological treatment which may, or may not be, appropriate.

ME or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is the biggest cause of long term sickness in children and affects up to twenty five thousand youngsters in the UK.

It has a range of symptoms including:

  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle pain and weakness
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Neurological problems.

    The Department of Health recognises the illness, but as yet, there is no definitive research on children on its cause, or the best way to treat it - and the medical profession is deeply divided

    The survey shows that nearly 60 percent of families who responded were told the illness was caused by psychological problems., and a disproportionate number of families were branded with Munchausen's By Proxy Syndrome, a condition in which parents make their children ill or claim they are ill.

    Click here for more details on the Panorama survey

    Matthew Hill meets children suffering from this debilitating illness and their parents who face hostility, accusations that they are harming their own children, and, in some cases, the threat of care proceedings because they oppose psychological approaches to treatment.
    Great Ormond Street Hospital.
    Great Ormond Street Hospital. - Where children with CFS have been treated in a locked psychiatric unit.
    A significant number of doctors believe CFS is caused by psychological problems and often advocate a rehabilitation programme aimed at distracting the child from thinking of their symptoms. In extreme cases some doctors are insisting on psychological treatment, while others simply refuse to believe the condition exists.

    Others prescribe a radically different method of treatment and believe it's best to allow the child to do as much or little as they feel able to, to have regular rests throughout the day and, in extreme cases, take them out of school and have home tuition instead. They believe pushing a child can damage them.

    Scroll down to the bottom of the page for related websites and support groups

     Watch clip: Georgie Sheldon was treated in a locked psychiatric unit.
    Georgie Sheldon
    Georgie Sheldon contracted CFS after a draining fight against cancer. She was admitted to a psychological unit for treatment for CFS. Half the children on the unit had eating disorders. She and her family felt strongly it was not geared to treating her condition. She claims the doctors and nurses did not seem to recognise her physical symptoms. Her mother was furious about the regime at the hospital. "One of them phoned me to say she was ill and actually I wasn't allowed to go and visit and that's when I lost it a bit and sort of said well she hasn't been sectioned under the Mental Health Act of course I can come and visit. But in a way I was given the impression that even if I did turn up they wouldn't let me in," she says.

     Watch clip: Helen McDade - felt accused of causing her child's illness.




    Related News Stories:
    ME children treated as mentally ill

    Related links:

    Action for M.E - includes special Panorama support information fact sheet.

    Young Action Online

    The M.E Association

    The Government Working Party on M.E

    Burrswood Hospital

    Association for Youth with ME

    The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


  •  WATCH/LISTEN
     ON THIS STORY
    Video
    Georgie Sheldon was treated in a locked psychiatric unit
    Video
    Helen McDade felt accused of causing her child's illness
    Links to more Archive stories are at the foot of the page.


    E-mail this story to a friend

    Links to more Archive stories

    © BBC ^^ Back to top

    News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
    South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
    Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
    Programmes