Woolas calls for drugs service help

Date published: 30 November 2009

K MP Phil Woolas is urging local health managers to find ways of expanding the pioneering benzodiazepine withdrawal service which was recently praised by a health minister.

The Oldham East MP and Government minister acted after local campaigner Barry Haslam was told last month there is no extra money to top up the service.

It is the only NHS-funded withdrawal service for those addicted to prescribed drugs and the £60,000 scheme has helped around 400 people.

Health Minister Gillian Merron, who visited the service in October and heard first hand from clients about its success, praised the scheme operated by Addiction Dependency Solutions in Greaves Street. But shortly afterwards Mr Haslam was told by NHS Oldham that in the current financial climate, there is no money to increase the funding.

Mr Woolas has now written to Gail Richards, chief executive of NHS Oldham.

He stated: “This news is very disappointing, especially given Oldham’s pioneering work in this field and the forthcoming national policy review on addiction to prescription drugs.

“In the light of the clear success of the service and the financial benefits, the case for an expanded service is evident. Could I therefore ask for this decision to be reviewed?”

He is also calling on managers at the Pennine Care Trust for mental health, and Oldham Council’s adult services department, to see if a partnership solution is possible.