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Wednesday, 7 June, 2000, 23:59 GMT 00:59 UK
Mentally-ill addicts are 'being ignored'
Drugs user
Mentally ill addicts need help
Urgent action is needed to help mentally-ill people who are addicted to drink or drugs, an influential group of MPs has warned.

The All-Party Parliamentary Drugs Misuse Group has claimed that the needs of these people are being ignored and has called on ministers to take immediate steps to address the problem.

In a report into existing services, the MPs found that both drugs and mental health services are failing to take responsibility for patients with this 'dual diagnosis'.

It is unacceptable that people are being turned away

Dr Brian Iddon MP

Evidence given to MPs earlier this year suggested people with a mental illness and an addiction problem pose a higher violence risk and are more likely to harm themselves or commit suicide.

Witnesses who addressed the group added that such people were more likely to be imprisoned, require repeat hospitalisation and die early.

MPs have urged ministers to force drugs and mental health services to work together and to consider establishing a new service to deal specifically with such people.

They recommended better training for medical, police, prison and social services staff and called for improved aftercare facilities in the community and in prisons.

Dr Brian Iddon, MP for Bolton South-East and chairman of the all-party group said: "It is unacceptable that people are being turned away from mental health services because they may be taking drugs and vice versa.

"We need the drugs and mental health tsars to get their heads together to tackle 'dual diagnosis' as a matter of urgency."

Judi Clements, chief executive of Mind welcomed the proposals.

"For too long, people have been passed backwards and forwards between the two services and many are suffering as a result."

But she was sceptical about the need for a new service to deal specifically with such people.

"I don't think we need a whole new service. I think it is about adapting the services we already have."

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15 May 00 | Health
What causes mental illness
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