Prescription Drugs: Misuse

Department of Health written question – answered on 11th March 2015.

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Photo of Eric Ollerenshaw Eric Ollerenshaw Conservative, Lancaster and Fleetwood

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what progress has been made by Public Health England on the commissioning of addiction to medicines pilot projects.

Photo of Eric Ollerenshaw Eric Ollerenshaw Conservative, Lancaster and Fleetwood

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, how many NHS patients are taking benzodiazepines; and if he will estimate how many such patients are taking that medication for more than the recommended time of four weeks.

Photo of Eric Ollerenshaw Eric Ollerenshaw Conservative, Lancaster and Fleetwood

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, if he will make it his policy that it be mandatory for clinical commissioning groups to commission services to support patients withdrawing from prescribed medicines; and what criteria are used for deciding whether services should be mandatory.

Photo of Jane Ellison Jane Ellison The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

The public health responsibilities which were transferred to local authorities by the Health and Social Care Act 2012 include the commissioning of specialist treatment for people who are dependent on drugs including prescribed medicines. The responsibility of clinical commissioning groups in this area is medicines management, which includes ensuring good prescribing practice, ensuring that prescribers are supported to manage withdrawal in non-complex cases and facilitating referral to specialist help where appropriate.

Public Health England (PHE) is supporting several local authorities that have expressed an interest in developing their support for people affected by addictions to medicines. This pathfinder work is locally designed and led.

PHE is assisting each area to develop their work plans, establish management, monitoring and oversight as well as working with them to ensure that appropriate clinical governance is in place. It will subsequently work with them to support delivery and monitor outcomes.

Information is not held centrally on the number of people prescribed particular medicines or the duration of treatment.

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