High Peak daughter campaigns to change laws on prescribed drugs in dad’s memory

Lauren Watson is campaigning to change the laws surrounding the prescription of drug champix in memory of her dad Andrew Colquhoun
Lauren Watson is campaigning to change the laws surrounding the prescription of drug champix in memory of her dad Andrew Colquhoun

A daughter is campaigning to change national drug guidelines in memory of her dad who she says was failed by health professionals.

Lauren Watson, from Fairfield, lost her dad three years ago after a drug he was prescribed to try and quit smoking exacerbated his depression, psychotic and mental health issues.

The mum-of-three complained to NHS England and then took it to the Parliamentary Health Ombudsman Service. She has received a verdict that there were shortcomings in how her dad was treated while on the drug Champix.

The 29-year-old said: “Since having the report back NHS Northumberland, where my dad was a patient, has agreed to change its guidelines and inform people of the side effects of the drug but that’s just not good enough.

“There needs to be a nationwide policy which sets out how medical professionals share knowledge rather than it being done on a trust by trust basis.

“It has been three years since my dad died and how many more people who have mental health issues have been given the drug and not told about the side effects?”

Lauren’s dad, Andrew Colquhoun, started smoking again and wanting to stop he sought medical advice. He was prescribed Champix which he took the month before he died and there was a sequence of events that led to a deterioration in his mental state and his death. The report back from the Ombudsman states there were shortcomings by the trust and ‘the monitoring put in place was not sufficient to accurately track Mr Colquhoun’s mood’.

Lauren said: “People need to be talking about this drug. I want surgeries, clinics and medical professionals to fully understand the risks associated with taking it and be sure that their patients do too and are screened properly beforehand and correctly monitored while on Champix.” In Derbyshire stop smoking clinics are run through Derbyshire County Council (DCC). A DCC spokesman said: “Champix is a prescription-only drug which can only be prescribed by a GP who has carried out an assessment on whether or not it’s suitable for a patient. People who come to our Live Life Better Derbyshire service asking for help to stop smoking are assessed by our staff, and during the 12-week support programme our advisers routinely ask clients if they are experiencing any side effects from any stop smoking drugs. If the client says they are and the adviser thinks are serious, we would advise them to stop using the medication and see their GP.”

To sign Lauren’s petition and help change the guidelines surrounding Champix click here