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Oldham Chronicle
January 12, 2007

by Janice Barker

A university professor has added her condemnation of Health Minister Rosie Winterton, after a clumsily worded letter to an Uppermill drugs campaigner.

Prof Heather Ashton, from the School of Neurosciences at Newcastle University, is angry that Barry Haslam was told that there are treatment and withdrawal services for people who "abuse" prescribed tranquilliser drugs.

Mr Haslam, of the Beat the Benzos campaign, is furious that people addicted to drugs prescribed by their GPs were bracketed with illegal drug abusers by the minister.

He also complained that Ms Winterton is wrong, because there are almost no services for involuntary addicts, who are refused treatment by services for hard core drug abusers.

Prof Heather Ashton, a leading academic in the field of benzodiazepine addiction and withdrawal treatment, told the minister: "Your repeated assertions are not true.

"Prescribed benzodiazepine users do not have proper access to primary health care services because GPs lack the time and expertise to withdraw long-term prescribed patients from benzodiazepines.

"These patients also do not have access to secondary health services - they are regularly refused treatment because they are not abusing opiates or other hard drugs."

A spokesman for the minister admitted that her letter had been "clumsily worded."

Click here to read Professor Heather Ashton's letter to Health Minister Rosie Winterton.

Media Archive · Beat The Benzos Campaign · Prof Ashton's Main Page · The Ashton Manual

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