The Earl of Sandwich – 2016 Parliamentary Question to the Department of Health

The below Parliamentary question was asked by The Earl of Sandwich on 2016-02-24.

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of (1) the British Medical Association’s report Prescribed drugs associated with dependence and withdrawal: building a consensus for action published in October 2015 on the effects of sudden withdrawal from prescribed drugs that have been over-prescribed; and (2) the need for more training on those effects; and whether they have plans to take any action as a result of that report.

Lord Prior of Brampton

We welcome the British Medical Association’s report and its contribution to addressing this serious issue.

It is the responsibility of local areas to plan, develop and improve health services according to the healthcare needs of the local population, including services for people dependent on prescription or over-the-counter medicines.

The Department, Public Health England (PHE) and NHS England (NHSE) are responsible for helping local areas to understand how they can best support people dependent on prescribed or over-the-counter medicines and have undertaken a number of initiatives. These include:

– supporting a project by St George’s University of London to strengthen the training of medical students in relation to substance misuse;

– supporting the Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education, Royal College of General Practitioners and others to develop information and educational materials, and training on addiction to medicines for General Practitioners and other healthcare professionals;

– the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency publishing a learning module on benzodiazepines in April 2013;

– PHE supported an expert group led by the Faculty of Pain Medicine at the Royal College of Anaesthetists (RCOA) to develop an online only core resource on opioid pain medicines that can be used as a source of consistent information by any medical body developing its own materials, and are working with RCOA colleagues to support the widespread dissemination and implementation of this online only resource;

– in June 2013, PHE published a commissioning guide for the NHS and local authorities, ‘Commissioning treatment for dependence on prescription and over-the-counter medicines: a guide for NHS and local authority commissioners’, which sets out their expectation that support should be available in every area for people with a dependency on prescription or over-the-counter medicines, based on a full assessment of local need. A copy of this guidance is attached;

– PHE supporting a small number of local areas to pilot improvements in their commissioning of responses to dependence on prescribed or over-the-counter medicines; and

– Commissioning research into prescribing patterns of dependence forming medicines in primary care.