Email from John Perrott to Edward Corbett, Ministerial Correspondence and Public Enquiries, Department of Health (15 August 2012)

Dear Edward Corbett,

Thank you for your response to my email your ref DE00000718958.

You have yet again not answered the specific question I asked in my last correspondence.

This has led me to lodge a third complaint with the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman regarding the Department of Health’s continued refusal to answer my specific questions or responding by providing an answer to a different question formulated by the Department.

I consider this to be a deliberate tactic designed to evade responsibility and accountability for the issue of involuntary tranquilliser addiction. The Department will be contacted by the Ombudsman regarding the backlog of my unanswered questions.

In the meantime, I will resubmit the specific question I asked in my last email. I also require clarification of statements you made in your last response.

Please answer specifically and without evasion the numbered questions below.

1. Long-term users of tranquillisers do not understand that they may be addicted and may have a need for services and their prescriber is unlikely to tell them. Local authorities commission services on the basis of demand and on the face of it there is no demand, so how will services be commissioned?

2. You say that the Department has already provided specific data to local areas. What is this data? Is this the same data I received in an FOI response to Anne Milton’s briefing for Oldham on this link If so, this is a JSNA support for substance misuse and crime reduction.

This is not a substance misuse issue.

3. I sent the Department an FOI response from NHS North West London on behalf of PCTs Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, and Westminster as a typical response from my survey which states that:

“You are correct in your assumption that the specialist drug and alcohol services within Inner North West London PCT’s catchment does treat tranquiliser addiction when combined with illicit substance misuse but not stand alone tranquilliser addiction unless illicit. They are not commissioned to carry out this function and there is a recognition that the needs of the cohort you refer to are significantly different to those who are illicit substance misusers.”

I provided this as evidence to contradict incorrect assertions made by Earl Howe in the House of Lords. In reply the Department evaded reply and merely thanked me for sending it.

Does the Department accept that my survey demonstrates that the evidence base provided by the NTA is factually incorrect?

4. You say that “the Department is working to support local areas better understand the level of need and develop services to meet it.”

a) What level of work, resources or funding has been allocated to involuntary tranquilliser addiction and what is the Department’s definition of this work – a few emails sent to commissioners or something more substantial?

b) How can the Department inform local areas of the level of need when it tells us it does not hold this information? If it does actually hold this data please provide me with it.

5. You refer to national training delivered at the RCGP conference.

a) What training was provided and who delivered it?

b) Please provide me with a copy of the training provided.

c) I see from the agenda from this year’s and last year’s conference that Mark Edgington, Senior DH Drug Policy Advisor provided a substantial part of this training. My understanding is that he has very little experience or knowledge of the subject of involuntary tranquilliser addiction. What qualifications or training does Mark Edgington have in order to deliver this training to other people?

Yours sincerely,

John Perrott

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