Pharmaceutical Journal: Deep disappointment as government scraps plan for national helpline

Writing for The Pharmaceutical Journal, Julia Robinson reports:

“The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) will not be taking forward recommendations to set up a helpline to support patients struggling with prescribed drug dependence, The Pharmaceutical Journal has learned.

This follows the failure of a spending review bid for the helpline submitted to HM Treasury in September 2021, meeting minutes released through a Freedom of Information (FoI) request have revealed.

In 2019, Public Health England (PHE) — which has now been replaced by the UK Health Security Agency and the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities — published an evidence review on the dependence and withdrawal associated with some prescribed medicines.

It included a recommendation that the DHSC should look at introducing a ‘time-limited national helpline and associated website’ to provide expert advice and support to patients.

The report said the service should provide patients with a combination of support and guidance in the form of drug information, advice on withdrawal and withdrawal symptoms, non-drug alternatives and details of local support services …”

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