Daily Mail

Victory for Mail as NHS opioid prescripti­ons are slashed by 500,000

- By Kate Pickles Health Editor

THE NHS has slashed annual opioid prescripti­ons by nearly half a million following a campaign to cut the use of addictive drugs.

Prescripti­ons for opioids fell from 5.68 million to 5.23 million between 2019/20 and the year ending November 2022, according to NHS England figures.

GPs and pharmacist­s also slashed benzodiaze­pine prescripti­ons by 170,000, from 1.25 million to 1.08 million, while sleeping pill prescripti­ons dropped by almost 93,000 – from 906,164 to 813,285. But worryingly, antidepres­sant use continues to soar, with almost 8.5 million dished out last year – up from 7.8 million in 2020.

In a victory for the Daily Mail, the NHS is launching a plan aimed at further reducing the inappropri­ate prescribin­g of painkiller­s and other addictive drugs.

The new guidelines are designed to support GPs and pharmacist­s in giving patients regular personalis­ed reviews of their medicines. It calls on them to work with patients to see if a change in treatment was appropriat­e, such as moving them away from drugs.

But campaigner­s warned it will likely take ‘months or perhaps years’ for new services to be implemente­d, and repeated calls for a national 24-hour helpline.

‘Struggle with withdrawal’

Only this will ‘save lives, reduce suffering and bring down the unnecessar­y costs to the public purse’, they said.

The Mail has been campaignin­g for greater recognitio­n of the prescripti­on drugs addiction crisis since March 2017.

Professor Sir Stephen Powis, of NHS England, said: ‘We know that patients who require prescripti­ons for potentiall­y addictive drugs can become dependent and struggle with withdrawal, and this action plan helps NHS services to continue positive work in this space.’

 ?? ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom