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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

outright disgrace

Media Release

Shadow Minister for Health
Thursday January 19, 2006

April resumption for methadone program an outright disgrace

Shadow Health Minister Sue Napier today slammed reports in today’s media that the methadone program will remain closed to new patients until April at the earliest.

Mrs Napier said the Health Minister David Llewellyn had told Parliament last year this vital program would resume early in the New Year.

“Well April is no where near the early New Year by anyone’s standard, and if indeed this is the indicative date for this program accepting new clients, it will mean that many opiate addicts have spent a disgraceful six months with no public methadone services available to them,” Mrs Napier said.

“This is an absolute disgrace and an outright abrogation of the Lennon Labor Government’s responsibility to Tasmanians.

“Why has the Lennon Labor Government not put in place emergency measures to ensure that people seeking treatment for such a serious addiction can access it through the health system?

“You simply cannot tell a person with an opiate addiction, who has acknowledged this addiction and is seeking treatment, to come back in six months time!

“This is dangerous, irresponsible and further damning evidence of the Lennon Labor Government’s complete inability to manage health.”

Mrs Napier called on the Health Minister to apologise for fooling Tasmanians into believing that the service would start accepting patients again early in 2006.

“We, like others in the community, fully expected this to mean January 2006, which was unacceptable in itself, given that this would have meant a two month absence of services.

“But for the Health Minister to now reveal that April is the likely start up date is shocking.”

Mrs Napier said making matters worse was the fact that methadone was a proven successful treatment for such a grave addictions.

“Methadone is a treatment that works a treatment for what can be a life-threatening addiction.

“We also know that there is very strong link between crime and heroin addictions, because addicts are so desperately addicted they will steal to fund a very expensive habit.

“Heroin also causes huge problems for a person’s physical and mental health, not to mention the problems it causes for their families.

“And yet, a proven treatment is closed for business in Tasmania thanks to the incompetence and the warped priorities of the Lennon Labor Government.”

Mrs Napier said the Lennon Labor Government should focus less on special deals for its special interest mates at the big end of town, and more on life and death issues confronting ordinary Tasmanians.

For more information, please contact:
Georgia Warner (03) 6233 2370 or 0418 564 073


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