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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 Tony McNulty MP,
April 21, 2009

The Right Honourable Tony McNulty MP
Department for Work and Pensions
Caxton House
Tothill Street

21 April 2009

Dear Tony,

Thank you for your letter of 31st March 2009 on the Welfare Reform Bill and Involuntary Tranquilliser Addiction (ITA). Involuntary Tranquilliser Addicts are patients who are dependent upon tranquillisers supplied to them by their doctors without proper warning of the danger of addiction. They may remain as addicted patients for years or decades, they are a completely different group of people from those who chose to misuse drugs. The Department of Health confuses these two groups and so unfortunately does your letter.

Your pilot arrangement for misusers of heroin and crack cocaine would not provide any gauge of how the regime would impact on ITA, because of the differences between the two groups. In fact we already know the impact of treatment on ITA; involuntary addicts are highly motivated to access treatment, their success rates are high and they want to go back to work. The coercion and sanction systems of the Welfare Reform Bill are not necessary for ITA.

In your letter you refer to evidence concerning tranquilliser, heroin and crack cocaine as barriers on a return to work. Please can you provide us with the evidence on which you rely. Our information from Parliamentary Questions, from David Freud and Caroline Haynes is that neither the Department of Work and Pensions, nor the Department of Health, has evidence on those subject.

You say that the Welfare Reform Bill pilots are an aspect of the government’s drug strategy. However, welfare reform and the drug strategy are not identical projects. Welfare reform is a back to work scheme and should also take into account the additional factors which we have brought to your attention.

  1. The scale of the tranquilliser problem, with 1.5 million patients dependent.

  2. The high motivation of Involuntary Tranquilliser Addicts to access treatment and return to work.

  3. The cost-effectiveness of treatment for tranquilliser addiction.

  4. That coercion and sanction systems are not needed for ITA.

You also say that it would be difficult to extend pilots to ITA and exclude misusers of cannabis, amphetamines, powdered cocaine and alcohol. Out contention is that involuntary tranquilliser addicts are suffering from an illness created by the NHS and for that reason should be entitled to treatment. It is an unfair stigmatization to categorise ITA with the voluntary drug users you have listed.

The Department of Health refuses to treat Involuntary Tranquilliser Addiction in its implementation of the government’s drug strategy. Your pilot programmes are extending that exclusion into the Welfare Reform Bill. Heroin and crack cocaine misusers, who are known to resist treatment and work, are given priority treatment over Involuntary Tranquilliser Addicts. The outcome will be that Involuntary Tranquilliser Addicts will be left on benefits with deteriorating health, at great cost to society and themselves, and with no road back to work. I hope you will accept that I feel obliged to be persistent on this issue because of the damage the system has inflicted on the estimated 1.5 million.

Yours sincerely,

Jim Dobbin MP

cc. The Rt. Hon. Alan Johnson M.P.
The Rt. Hon. James Purnell MP
The Rt. Hon. Dawn Primarolo MP
Phil Woolas MP
Professor Heather Ashton
Pam Armstrong
Barry Haslam

Email Jim Dobbin MP
Email Mick Behan

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