Richard Medlicott is not your usual GP.

The Wellington doctor, and former medical director of the New Zealand College of General Practitioners, is raising money for a chronic illness that many in the medical profession know little about.

Medlicott has set up a Givealittle page for his cause. He wants to raise $5000 from an endurance mountain bike ride in December toward educating doctors on Myalgic Encephalomyelitis or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, ME/CFS.

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"As a doctor you come across all kinds of illnesses and diseases and all kinds of things I could be raising money for," Medlicott said.

"But as is often the case with these charity type things there's often a personal connection and I've got relatives with ME/CFS, one particularly badly affected."

Those relatives are anxious to find the best treatment for their stricken family member, says Medlicott, who has garnered much of his knowledge on the often misunderstood condition from them.

"Most of the stuff I've learned [about ME] has come not from the general medical fraternity or education for GPs, but actually through these relatives who are also close friends.

"And I'm aware of how debilitating it is for those guys, how debilitating it is for other people, how little research there is, and how little GPs know."

December's Pioneer Mountain Bike Race will be the second for Dr Richard Medlicott, but his first raising money for ME/CFS education. Photo / Supplied
December's Pioneer Mountain Bike Race will be the second for Dr Richard Medlicott, but his first raising money for ME/CFS education. Photo / Supplied

He wants the money he raises from the Pioneer Mountain Bike Race on December 1-6 to be used by the ME Awareness NZ group to teach GPs about the signs and symptoms of ME/CFS, which are often missed.

"It costs money to educate doctors. So what I'm trying to do is give some money, not for awareness to the general population, but awareness to GPs."

So far $3805 has been raised toward the development and promotion of evidence-based educational opportunities for health practitioners.


"These education opportunities will enhance understanding of the emerging research evidence around diagnosis and management of ME, as well as helping health professionals to connect their patients with support networks," Richard wrote on his page.

The gruelling endurance ride climbs 13,000 metres up the Southern Alps over 441km, and taking six days to complete.

Medlicott, who will be on his second Pioneer Mountain Bike Race, called it "a brutal challenge".

"So is living with ME."

Medlicott stresses he is not an expert on ME/CFS.

"I'm another GP who's learned some stuff and I think the ME Awareness site is really good for GPs to go and have a look at because there's evidence-based information there.


"And the evidence is honest, saying there's so much we don't know and so much we don't understand."

About 20,000 people suffer from ME/CFS, also known as Tapanui Flu, in New Zealand.

One is Marcel Robert, whose story about life inside a rest home at age 31 and the importance of funding for research, features here.

For Medlicott, raising money for ME/CFS is about supporting GPs in their care of patients with the illness.

"We get taught about Multiple Sclerosis. We get taught about Motor Neurone Disease, but I've never been taught about ME or CFS."