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Positive response from Welsh Gov to the issues of dependency with prescribed medication

Welsh Government have accepted nine out of ten of the recommendations brought forward by Stevie Lewis’s petition.

It is important we distinguish between substance misuse, as the harmful use of substances such as drugs and alcohol; and dependence arising from the therapeutic use of medicines whether they are prescribed or purchased.

This paragraph is so important – to distinguish between misuse and inadvertent dependency.

We commend Welsh Gov for it’s deliberation and thoughtful response to this petition

Petitioner Stevie Lewis
Prescribed Medication Petitioner

We have accepted nine of the ten recommendations set out in the report and a Government response to each is annexed to this letter for the Committee’s consideration.

The Summary

Recommendation 1.
Greater recognition should be given to prescription drug dependence at a national level in both policy and strategy, including within the next Substance Misuse Action Plan and the Substance Misuse Treatment Framework. This should include a clearer distinction between substance misuse and prescription drug dependence, and identification of specific actions to help prevent dependence upon prescription medications and support people affected.
Response: Accept

Recommendation 2.
The Welsh Government should confirm and explain its position on whether SSRI and SNRI antidepressants should be formally recognised as potentially leading to problems of dependence and withdrawal.
Response: Accept

Recommendation 3.
The Welsh Government should restate and emphasise antidepressants should not be routinely prescribed for mild depression in guidance to healthcare professionals, and should provide assurances that sufficient alternative treatment options, such as psychological therapies, are available across Wales.
Response: Accept

Recommendation 4.
The Welsh Government should ensure that additional guidance is produced and promoted in relation to safe tapering of prescription medications, both for patients and health professionals.
Response: Accept

Recommendation 5.
The Welsh Government should provide an update on the actions carried out in response to Recommendation 8 of the Health and Social Care Committee’s inquiry into Alcohol and Substance Misuse published in August 2015.

(This was not a matter brought up in the initial petition and has a different pinciple. ed AJ)

Recommendation 6.
The Welsh Government should determine whether SSRI and SNRI antidepressants should be added to the list of drugs targeted for reduction, and should introduce a national prescribing indicator to support closer monitoring of prescribing volumes and patterns across Wales. This indictor should be used to identify areas where further investigation or intervention may be required.
Response: Reject

(comment – Saddened this wasn’t accepted as it would be a huge leap to monitor how much and for how long SSRI and SNRI’s are prescribed for and therefore have foresight into how many patients will struggle and be affected by their withdrawal. Gov could then plan a coherent strategy in knowledge of how many will require assistance going forward. ed AJ)

Recommendation 7.
The Welsh Government should investigate, as a priority, the potential for a national rollout of a service based upon the Prescribed Medication Support Service operating within Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, in order to ensure that specific advice and support is available for people who require assistance with prescription medication.
Response: Accept in principle

Recommendation 8.
The Welsh Government should create opportunities for a coordinated strategy and greater information-sharing between health boards in relation to prescribed drug dependence, with a view to improved sharing of best practice and to ensure equity of services and support to patients.
Response: Accept

Recommendation 9.
NHS Wales should make better use of the expertise of pharmacists to support evidence-based prescribing, patient monitoring including regular patient reviews, and increased provision of help with tapering and withdrawing from medication.
Response: Accept


Recommendation 10.
The Welsh Government should conduct and publish an assessment of the sufficiency of the advice available to people experiencing prescription drug dependence and withdrawal through the DAN24/7 helpline, including the adequacy of training for operators. The Welsh Government should ensure that the availability of advice related to prescribed drug dependence is promoted appropriately.
Response: Accept

For access to the full petition and its history
http://www.senedd.assembly.wales/mgIssueHistoryHome.aspx?IId=19952

https://past.wales/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Government-Response-to-Committee-Report.pdf

Mental Health

e-Petition: Add Mental Health Education to the mandatory teaching curriculum for all schools in Wales

open quote / dyfyniad agored

When working for Mental – The Podcast to Destigmatise Mental Health, I am continually concerned by the lack of education in schools around mental health. With 1 in 4 of us experiencing mental illness every year according to the charity Mind, this seems to be a real and significant gap in our education system.

KEY STATISTICS:

Over half of all mental ill health starts before the age of 14, and 75% of this has developed by the age of 18;

A 2015 survey found that 13% of adults (16 & older) living in Wales were reported to have received treatment for a mental health problem, an increase from 12% reported in 2014;

The overall cost of mental health problems in Wales is an estimated £7.2 billion a year.

The statistics are shocking, yet whilst there is a whole subject in the Welsh curriculum about our physical health in the form of PE, our young people are left without knowledge of even the most common mental illnesses.
Not only does this leave them unprepared & vulnerable when it comes to looking out for their own mental health, but also sets the standard that Mental Health is not discussed. This plants a seed of stigma that many carry for their whole lives.

We are keen to hear back from those in power on a more extensive plan to better the lives of Wales’s young people.

CAMPAIGNING FOR:

Mental Health education becoming mandatory teaching for all schools in Wales without the addition of any exams/homework on this subject.
Every child in Wales having the ability to access a qualified counsellor through their school.
Every school in Wales offering Mental Health training for its staff.

Please join our petition to help bring us one step closer to making these requests a reality for Welsh children, thus safeguarding the health of generations to come.

Thank you for reading, Annie Harris

Learn more about this petition & the team behind it at mentalpodcast.co.uk/petition

1. Source: Murphy M and Fonagy P (2012). Mental health problems in children and young people. In: Annual Report of the Chief Medical Officer 2012. London: Department of Health.

2. and 3. Source: Mental Health Foundation. Mental Health in Wales, Fundamental Facts 2016 (https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/sites/default/files/FF16%20Wales.pdf)

Please see https://www.change.org/p/get-mental-health-education-on-the-school-curriculum-mentalpetition-join-me-and-over-100-000-others for the national interest in this petition. We handed in the petition to 10 Downing Street on 3rd October 2018.

Sign here

https://www.assembly.wales/en/gethome/e-petitions/Pages/petitiondetail.aspx?PetitionID=1446

1 in 7

On the 9th May 2018 Michelle Ballantyne, MSP, raised the important issue of antidepressant overuse in the Scottish Parliament:

This was the first part of the response made by the Minister for Mental Health:

As an NHS doctor who has worked as a psychiatrist  in Scotland for over 25 years I am not reassured by this response by the Minister for Mental Health. I have highlighted three aspects of this response which I wish to briefly consider:

CLINICAL DECISION:
I agree that prescribing should follow the principles of  informed consent and shared decision making.  However informed consent will not be possible if the information that doctors base prescribing on follows marketing and promotion rather than independent, and more objective, continuing medical education.  The Scottish Government has consulted the public on the need for mandatory declarations of financial competing interests for doctors and academics in an open, central register. The public made it clear that this was what they felt was necessary. More than two years on from this consultation and there is no such system ensuring the transparency that is necessary for informed decision making between clinician and patient.

GOOD EVIDENCE:
Where is the “Good Evidence” to support the prescribing of antidepressants to 1 in 7 Scots, a significant proportion of whom are taking antidepressants long term or indefinitely? I have, like others, asked the Scottish Government to provide this “good evidence” but have been provided with no evidence to support such mass prescribing of  long term antidepressants.

APPROPRIATELY:
Currently there is a petition being considered by the Scottish Parliament in relation to potential problems with prescribed medications. This has highlighted that an important aspect which should determine the “appropriateness” of prescribing, namely the experience of people who are taking medications, has not been given the weight that it should.

Full Article

Antidepressants (Overuse)