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"General Practitioners Abuse Tranquilliser Drug Prescribing" - A Health Warning

A recent Panorama report on BBC1 Television highlighted an astonishing lack of patient care by GPs. Many GPs have been prescribing tranquillisers for long periods, despite knowing since 20 years or so that use of these drugs can lead to addiction after just a short time. In many cases, the programme explained, a period of use in excess of four weeks presents a serious risk to the patient. In addition to the problem of addiction, some drugs have side effects which interfere with a patient's ability to operate effectively or live happily.

Based on a survey of the general public, the programme estimated that around one and a half million people in the UK are likely to have tranquilliser addiction. Pro rata that is well over 200 people in Broughton Astley!

Just consider two results of this. First, there is the suffering caused to those affected and their relatives, much of which seems avoidable. Second, there is the high cost of the drugs and repeated visits to Doctors. It is 'good' business if you are a drug manufacturer or a Doctor who needs a steady stream of patients to maintain the level of funding from the government. But otherwise it is scandalous and it is quite in keeping with many recent exposures of impropriety, incompetence and abuse within the UK's health services.

There is no justification for this and the GPs concerned have misbehaved with a full understanding of the likely consequences of their actions. It does not seem likely that they did this out of spite or 'evil' nature. More likely is the fact that have not been able to cope with the stresses and strains of their own jobs. They themselves have become psychologically weak and unable to discriminate between expediency and integrity. It is much quicker to sign another prescription slip and get another patient out of the door than to address the underlying causes of a patient's illness.

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Copyright - John Peirson 2001
Keywords - Addiction, Panorama, tranquilliser, doctor, expediency, abuse, suffering, cost, health, illness, prescription