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H O U S E   OF   C O M M O N S

APPGITA - All Party Parliamentary Group for
Involuntary Tranquilliser Addiction

House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA

Letter from Jim Dobbin MP to
The Rt. Hon Anne Milton MP,
Minister of State, August 22, 2012

August 22, 2012

Rt. Hon Anne Milton MP
Minister of State
Department of Health
Richmond House
79 Whitehall
London SW1A 2NS

Dear Anne,

It has come to our attention that extensive arrangements have been made by the Department of Health regarding addiction to prescribed medication. We understand the National Treatment Agency has taken over responsibility for a programme of work on addiction to medicines and Steve Taylor of the NTA is the Programme Manager.

However, despite reading voluminous literature on the NTA and Department of Health websites, it is by no means clear to us what arrangements have been made with regard to involuntary tranquilliser addiction.

The APPGITA would therefore be grateful if you could provide us with an explanation of how the new arrangements will affect the group of patients with which we are concerned. Please will you answer the following questions:

  1. What services are to be provided for prescribed tranquilliser addiction?

  2. What will be the starting date for those services?

  3. Will patients be able to self refer themselves for treatment?

  4. Will stand alone prescribed tranquilliser addiction be treated or only in association with misuse of other drugs? The information made available on the websites is ambiguous on this issue.

  5. What separate funding has been allocated for the treatment of prescribed addiction?

  6. What method of withdrawal from tranquillisers will service providers use?

  7. What specialised training will be provided or required for those delivering tranquilliser withdrawal services?

  8. Does the Department intend to make an announcement in order that patients will be aware these services have become available?

  9. Who will provide scientific and medical advice for tranquilliser withdrawal and has Professor Heather Ashton been consulted for her advice?

Further to my letter of July 30 it has become apparent that one consequence of the introduction of integrated services, as described in the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA), will be that funding will no longer be available for specialised tranquilliser withdrawal services. CITA in Lancashire for example was established in 1987 and is the most well known of the tranquilliser and prescribed medication withdrawal services. CITA does not provide services for drug misuse and is therefore unable to provide the integrated services required by the JSNA. As existing contracts come to an end CITA will lose its funding and be unable to continue. A policy review intended to provide tranquilliser services is therefore having the opposite outcome of closing a specialised and expert clinic together with its national helpline. Please will you look into CITA's predicament which will also affect other existing clinics as their contracts come to an end.

Finally, I have to tell you that the APPGITA is disappointed not to have been properly informed or consulted over the last two years as these substantial arrangements were prepared and more recently as they have been implemented. In my view it is not appropriate for an APPG to trawl around the internet in order to discover what policy the Department has introduced. I would therefore be interested to know what, in your view, is the role of an APPG in policy formulation.

Yours sincerely,

Jim Dobbin MP
Chair, All Party Parliamentary Group on Involuntary Tranquilliser Addiction

Email Jim Dobbin MP
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