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Experts attack government plans to cuts benefits for addicts who refuse treatment

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e3694 (Published 24 May 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e3694
  1. Zosia Kmietowicz
  1. 1London

Job centre staff in England, Wales, and Scotland are to be given the task of spotting unemployed people who are addicted to alcohol or drugs and referring them for specialist treatment services, the work and pensions secretary hinted on 23 May. Those who refuse rehabilitation will have their benefits cut, government sources suggested.

However, specialist addiction professionals and charities have lambasted the proposal saying that job centre staff do not have the skills to deal with addicts and that there are insufficient high quality services to offer the level of help some people need.

Ian Gilmore, special adviser on alcohol for the Royal College of Physicians, said: “Current treatment facilities for addicts in this country, particularly those with alcohol dependence, are woefully inadequate and we strongly support initiatives to improve this. However, patients must be treated with respect and given genuine choice in their treatment options, and these must be fully respected in any scheme.”

Martin Barnes, chief executive of drug charity …

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