A key parliamentary debate has been secured by a Glasgow MP over a controversial medical trial which patients with myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) say makes them even more ill.

The £5m medical trial part-funded by the Department of Work and Pensions led to a scientific row with it being condemned as “deeply flawed” and a “textbook example of a poorly done trial”.

There has been criticism over the trial claims that the estimated 250,000 ME sufferers in Britain could be helped to recovery by simple lifestyle intervention including graded exercise therapy and cognitive behaviour therapy.

Manifesting as unrelenting fatigue and profound pain, the condition, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome, has no known cure and is made worse by exertion.

Now Carol Monaghan, the SNP MP for Glasgow North West, has secured a Westminster Hall debate on the PACE trial on February 20.

HeraldScotland: SNP MP Carol Monaghan

She is being assisted by the ME Association’s honorary medical adviser, Dr Charles Shepherd.

He said: “Inappropriate aerobic exercise exacerbates symptoms for ME patients and can make their condition worse. The data used in the PACE trial is flawed and we are grateful to Ms Monaghan to securing this important debate.

“There are unique and exceptional problems faced by people with ME/CFS, including a lack of medical education leading to late and inaccurate diagnosis – along with absent, inappropriate or even harmful management advice being given as a result.

“Medical scepticism or even hostility about the nature and seriousness of the illness is also leading to problems with DWP benefits, education, employment, social care and even child care proceedings.”

ME sufferers are often confined to their beds, unable to walk, and need help even to shower - an action that could then lay them low for hours, days, weeks or longer.

When the PACE trial results were published in 2011, researchers claimed that GET and CBT were “moderately effective” forms of treatment. But the trial has faced intense criticism from patients and charities, such as the ME Association, over how the results were obtained, analysed and presented.

After a long legal battle, unpublished data from the trial was released and when independently analysed the ME Association claimed it showed no difference between the different treatments being tested and that reported recovery rates had been grossly inflated.

And in surveys carried out by the ME Association, more than half of patients who had followed the recommended graded exercise programme saw a worsening in their symptoms.