BMA calls for new support for prescription drug dependency

The government should set up a national helpline for prescribed drug dependence, the BMA has said.

The doctors’ organisation has set out its recommendations on management and prevention of prescription drugs dependence based on a call for evidence from stakeholders.

The UK government, it said, should set up a national, 24 hours helpline to support patients, similar to the FRANK drugs advice service.

It also called for each UK government, and the health departments and local authorities to establish specialist support services, and for clear guidance on tapering and withdrawal management with input form professional groups and patients.

GP prescribing

GPC clinical and prescribing policy lead Dr Andrew Green said: ‘We believe that establishing a national helpline, similar to the FRANK service, should be a top priority to provide better service to individuals with prescribed drug dependence. This would provide vital, timely support and could be introduced relatively quickly.

‘Doctors would also welcome more robust guidance on managing prescription medicine dependence and withdrawal.

He added: ‘There is also the need for specialist services to be consistently available across the country, as patients are often referred to general drug and alcohol services, which do not have adequate resources, and whose skills are different to those needed to manage prescription drug dependence. This would ensure patients, carers and families have access to trusted and expert advice and support.’

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