§ Dr. David Kerr
asked the Minister of Health what hospital facilities for the treatment of heroin addicts will be available in the London area on 16th April, when the regulations restricting to licenced doctors the prescribing of heroin come into force; and, in particular, whether any clinics will provide a 24-hour out-patient service.
§ Mr. K. Robinson
All the out-patient facilities mentioned in my reply of 30th January to my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. Carol Johnson) will be available before 16th April. There will be regular out-patient clinics at 16 hospitals, seven of which will hold clinics five days a week.
For in-patients, in addition to the beds already in use, the new unit at St. Luke's Hospital, Woodside, is expected to be open before 16th April, and the new units at the Bethlem Royal Hospital and St. Clements Hospital in May.
The out-patient clinics are not intended to operate on a 24-hour basis, or to provide facilities for an addict to obtain a prescription for heroin at any time of the day or night. I am advised that the consensus of opinion among the psychiatrists in this field is that a 24-hour out-patient treatment service is unnecessary and undesirable in that the attendance of an addict at regular times in a clinic's usual working hours is part of the process of rehabilitation. Any prescription for heroin will normally be sent direct from the clinics to a chemist to be dispensed daily. Emergency treatment for addicts in distress is available at all times in accident and emergency departments and in certain casualty departments; this may take the form of the administration of a substitute drug to tide the patient over until he can attend a regular clinic. A 24-hour service has been set up from which hospitals and general practitioners can obtain information by telephone about the out-patient services available in the London area.—[Vol. 757, c. 260–1.]