In my practice, we have a protocol for managing and prescribing for addicts that has been discussed with the Home Office Drugs Inspectorate and the local drugs squad. In all cases, patients are offered a way out of drug abuse and alternative treatments, but where this is refused opiates are prescribed. We audit the outcomes for our patients and have also noted a marked decrease in criminal activity by these patients. We have published papers about our programme in such journals as the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, Update and Maternal & Child Health.
We are by no means unique. There are at least two other practices in Bedford that treat patients according to similar protocols and many more all over the United Kingdom.
This activity by general practitioners has been the result of doctors recognising the problems of patients they know well, and quietly, and with little publicity, managing their problems after gaining agreement from the licensing authorities. I suppose that, in fact, this is what general practice is about.
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