Medical negligence lawyer appears on Radio 5 Live

Doctors are demanding the urgent introduction of a national 24-hour helpline for prescription drug dependence following successful legal action pursued by Slee Blackwell Medical Negligence lawyer Oliver Thorne on behalf of his client Janet Waterton,

The BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-37716869 reports that the BMA (British Medical Association) are calling for more support for people coming off prescription drugs, such as benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines are often prescribed for severe anxiety and insomnia, and, as in Janet’s case, occasionally for pain relief.

Janet and Oliver recently appeared on Radio 5 Live to discuss the growing problem of prescribed drug dependence. It is being increasingly recognised that there is a desperate need for specialist services to be accessible throughout the UK. The BMA is set to publish its recommendations which are expected to highlight the need for clear guidance to be given to medical practitioners on helping their patients to reduce and stop taking prescription medications.

Janet, who is from Cornwall, was first prescribed benzodiazepines in 1992 following hip surgery. The intention was to provide her with pain relief but over time she become dependent on the drugs and suffered terrible withdrawal symptoms when she tried to come off them. She described experiencing massive electric shocks in her brain accompanied by twitching and numbness. It was 18 year before she was free of the drugs. This led her to seek legal advice. Oliver Thorne took her case on and succeeded in establishing that Jan had been let down by those responsible for treating her. The case was funded on a No Win – No Fee basis and resulted in Janet receiving substantial compensation.

Commenting on the case Oliver (who is based at the firm's Barnstaple office) said:

“Janet’s claim was a challenging one right from the start. There were numerous hurdles to overcome and the fact that she had been taking the drug for such a long time and had been given the drug by various GP’s and NHS clinicians over the years made matters even more complex. Once we had established that the drug had been prescribed negligently and the Health Trust accepted this, we were able to go on to investigate what effect the drug had on Janet and her family, including the impact on her ability to work. The award achieved for Janet will go some way to compensating her for the years that she has lost but inevitabley it will never make up for what she has suffered.”

According to figures released by NHS Digital, over 10 million prescriptions for benzodiazepines were issued last year in England. That amounts to nearly 1% of all prescriptions dispensed in 2015. The recommended maximum time for which benzodiazepines should be prescribed is four weeks. Beyond that period dependency becomes a recognised risk.

However it is widely known that patients are prescribed these drugs for much longer periods. The BBC 5 live Investigates programme has identified instances of people using benzodiazepines for decades. Worryingly research suggests that there may be more than 266,000 benzodiazepine users nationwide. This presents a very serious public health issue that needs to be urgently addressed.

If you would like to discuss benzodiazepine dependency with Oliver Thorne then you can contact him on 01271 372128 or by email at oliver.thorne@sleeblackwell.co.uk

Oliver's practice covers the whole of Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and beyond.

0808 139 1596