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4 April 2014
Increase in psychotropic drug prescriptions 2013
Thank you for your letter of 20 March.
The recently published Prescription Cost Analysis 2013 records that the combined total for tranquilliser and antidepressant prescriptions has increased from 67.3 million prescriptions in 2012 to 70.2 million prescriptions in 2013.
This increase demonstrates:
a) Established patients who have been prescribed tranquillisers long term are being left on them and that there are no withdrawal facilities for involuntary tranquilliser addicts.
b) The increase of 3 million prescriptions equates to approximately 250,000 new patients being initiated into antidepressant use with all the risks associated including withdrawal syndromes, deaths, birth defects and suicides.
In your letter of 20 March you said “I fully intend to maintain the momentum generated by my predecessors so that we can help all those who are affected by this serious problem”.
You have been misinformed by your advisers that there is any momentum at all generated by your predecessors Anne Milton and Anna Soubry.
Your immediate predecessor Anna Soubry set out the four areas for action agreed by a roundtable of experts and patient groups convened by the Department of Health at the NTA Addiction to Medicines seminar in February 2013.
One of these was:
“Improving access to treatment and support, including non-medicine treatment such as the programme for Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) and broader health and wellbeing that can make people feel better without pills.”
This has not happened as shown by the increase in psychotropic drug prescriptions.
Anna Soubry’s predecessor, Anne Milton, said in response to my PQ of 19 Dec 2011:
“The Government’s Drugs Strategy seeks to tackle dependence on all drugs, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs. We are leading work to prevent and tackle addiction to prescribed and over-the-counter medicine, including anti-depressants.”
The following conclusions may be drawn from this increase in prescriptions for psychotropic drugs:
- The coalition’s addiction to medicines strategy has failed
- The coalition does not understand the modern concept of treating the whole person with an integrated health and social care system. The social cost of the iatrogenic illness generated by these prescriptions is enormous in the cost of DWP benefits, NHS visits for drug side effects, emergency hospital admissions for tranquillisers and antidepressants, which are sixteen times those of heroin and cocaine combined (Drug Poisoning Finished Admission Episodes 2011 – 12).
- Coalition Public Health Ministers have been unable to control ideological PHE officials such as Steve Taylor and Rosanna O’Connor who have implemented their own substance misuse policy in direct contradiction of the policy laid out by Anna Soubry at the NTA Addiction to Medicines Event in February 2013.
I would be happy to meet with you again in the near future to discuss these matters.
Jim Dobbin MP
Chair, All Party Parliamentary Group on Involuntary Tranquilliser Addiction
House of Commons
Prime Minister breaks promise made in Prime Minister’s Questions to help prescribed tranquilliser victims
David Cameron in answer to Jim Dobbin MP, Prime Minister’s Questions, 23 October 2013:
“this is a terrible affliction; these people are not drug addicts but they have become hooked on repeat prescriptions of tranquillisers. The Minister for public health is very happy to discuss this issue with him and, as he says, make sure that the relevant guidance can be issued.”
Now, David Cameron passes the buck to Jane Ellison, Public Health Minister, who in turn passes the buck to local areas. No funding, no appropriate guidance, no expertise, no withdrawal support, no addressing doctors’ non-compliance with guidelines – nothing, except more damage to patients.
This is a Response to a FOI request to DH sent on 20 January 2014. One of the requests was for a list of specialist services referred to by Steve Taylor, Programme Manager, Alcohol and Drugs PHE. DH has been asked for this list on many occasions and to date has failed to provide one but claimed incorrectly that most local areas have services. This is despite DH and two Public Health Ministers, Anna Soubry and Jane Ellison and Earl Howe, Under Secretary of State, Health being presented with a survey of PCTs in England June 2012 proving that 83%of local areas have no such services.
DH once again failed to provide a list and instead referred the request to PHE. The FOI request was clear that the services required in this list were for “those addicted involuntarily, compliant with their doctors and who do not abuse these or other drugs and not integrated drug and alcohol treatment services with no prior experience of treatment of this cohort.”
A further example of a “couldn’t care less attitude”
Dear Prime Minister,
I have today received a letter of 14 February 2014 from your correspondence officer, stating that you asked them to forward my letter to the Department of Health for reply.
As the whole point of Jim Dobbin MP’s letter and mine in support was that the Department of Health and the Public Health Minister were not following your direction, clearly stated in your answer in PMQs, then I fail to see what this will achieve, apart from a continuation of directing all concerns about involuntary tranquilliser addiction into a perpetual round of circles and inaction.
Until someone stops playing pass the parcel with the issue then people through no fault of their own will continue to be damaged by psychotropic medication prescribed by their doctors who do not follow guidelines.
When you said, regarding involuntary tranquilliser addiction, “this is a terrible affliction; these people are not drug addicts but they have become hooked on repeat prescriptions of tranquillisers. The Minister for public health is very happy to discuss this issue with him and, as he says, make sure that the relevant guidance can be issued” was this just another ministerial sound bite?
Rt Hon David Cameron MP
10 Downing Street
30th January 2014
Dear Prime Minister
Thank you for having considered my PQ about Involuntary Tranquilliser Addiction on the 23rd of October and giving such a respectful and encouraging response.
I am writing to express serious concerns regarding the lack of appropriate action by the Department of Health and the Minister for Public Health on this very issue; involuntary tranquilliser addiction.
In answer to my question you said correctly “this [ITA] is a terrible affliction; these people are not drug addicts but they have become hooked on repeat prescriptions of tranquillisers. The Minister for public health is very happy to discuss this issue with him and, as he says, make sure that the relevant guidance can be issued.” (HC Deb 23 Oct 2013 c 296)
Pursuant to your answer we were granted a meeting with Jane Ellison on the 17th December 2013.
At the meeting on 17 December 2013 we gave the Minister a copy of a briefing detailing our concerns [Appendix 1] and we discussed these in further detail at the meeting.
Since then we have heard nothing, however, I have read a reply from the Minister to a letter given to her by the Earl of Sandwich, obtained by FOI, in which the Minister adopts an intransigent position ignoring all our concerns, refusing to acknowledge or properly treat an illness inflicted on over a million people by over-prescription of drugs creating long term addictions over a period nearing half a century. [Appendix 2].
There are only about six small withdrawal charities providing treatment for involuntary tranquilliser addiction struggling for funding due to the health reforms. Services are not patchy, as the Minister claims in her letter, but nearly non-existent [Appendix 3]. We know that the Minister’s statement that “treatment is available across the country” is incorrect.
At the meeting, the Minister said that she would arrange to visit Addiction Dependency Solutions (ADS) Oldham, but Lady Rhona Bradley CEO, who attended the Ministerial meeting, has heard nothing since.
The Minister also said that she would contact the RCGP to ask why the tranquilliser guidance has not been published and why the RCGP/CPPE training module was on abuse of medicines instead of involuntary tranquilliser addiction; both were previous action points arising from the Roundtable on Addiction to medicines with responsibility given to the RCGP.
To suggest, as the Minister does further in her letter, that vulnerable people disabled by withdrawal symptoms and side effects of the drugs should fight for services through Healthwatch is beyond belief.
Since the health reforms and localism have been introduced the situation is even worse. There is negligible local expertise and understanding about the scale of involuntary tranquilliser addiction and how to treat it, exacerbated further by the PHE commissioning guide, which is not fit for purpose for reasons already explained to the Minister and PHE.
APPGITA considers that the direction you gave on this issue in PMQs is not being followed and I ask in the strongest possible terms that you personally intervene on this matter.
Jim Dobbin MP
House of Commons
CC. Jane Ellison, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for public Health
CC. Rosanna O’Connor, Director of Alcohol and Drugs, PHE
The reply from Jane Ellison is a hard line response maintaining an intransigent position refusing to acknowledge or treat the illness caused by an illness inflicted on over a million people by over-prescription of drugs creating long term addictions.