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Volume 472: debated on Wednesday 27 February 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what funding will be made available in the forthcoming financial year to (a) educate the public on the risks of cannabis use, (b) fund primary research into the link between cannabis and psychosis and (c) assist mental health service users to discontinue their cannabis use. (184181)

The Department will be making an announcement shortly on how much funding it will making available to the FRANK campaign in 2008-09.

The FRANK campaign is the key mechanism used by the Government for making the public aware of the harms associated with drug use.

In 2007-08 the Department made £2 million available to the FRANK campaign. We are not able to provide a breakdown of spend by individual drug but in 2007-08 there was an enhanced focus on cannabis within the FRANK programme.

In addition to this funding the Department for Children, School and Families and the Home Office also invest resources for the purpose of educating the public on the use of cannabis.

Implementation of the Department's research strategy “Best Research for Best Health” is resulting in an expansion of our research programmes and in significant new funding opportunities for health research. The National Institute for Health Research, set up as part of that implementation process, has awarded a £2 million programme grant to support research on improving physical health and reducing substance use, particularly cannabis use, in severe mental illness. Research on cannabis use and psychosis will also form part of the work programme of the Institute's South London and Maudsley NHS Trust and Institute of Psychiatry Biomedical Research Centre which the Department began funding in April 2007.

Over the past three years alone, total spending on the national health service in England has increased from £69 billion in 2004-05 to over £90 billion in 2007-08. Following the settlement of the comprehensive spending review last October, total expenditure on the NHS will rise to £110 billion by 2010-11. We have made very substantial resources available to the NHS from which to provide treatments and services for the population. However, the responsibility for the provision of all NHS services now rests with primary care trusts (PCTs) and NHS funds are not ringfenced for particular treatments. Ultimately, PCTs in conjunction with their relevant strategic health authority should plan, develop, commission or provide heath services, and decide what proportion of their budgets they spend on particular health services, including mental health services, according to the needs of their local communities.

To ensure that people with mental health problems are aware of the risks associated with cannabis use the Department have published a “Cannabis and Your Mental Health” resource pack which includes a range of resources to help highlight the harmful effects of cannabis use for people with mental health problems.

The Department is also committed to improving the help and care available to people with concurrent mental illness and substance misuse problems—known as dual diagnosis. The Department has published “Dual Diagnosis in in-patient and day hospital settings” to take forward this aim. This guidance makes clear that the ability to provide dual diagnosis patients with the treatment and care they require, should be the norm in mental health services.

In addition there are people with less severe mental health problems who receive their treatment for cannabis use within a specialist drug treatment service setting. To support practitioners in treatment services in providing the most appropriate treatment for cannabis misuse we have made available substantial resources to drug treatment services through the Pooled Treatment Budget and also National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence have published guidance on treatment for cannabis users as part of their psycho-social guidelines “Drugs Misuse Psycho-Social Intervention Guidelines”, published in July 2007.