Excellent State of the Sector Report 2014

Blenheim welcomes the State of the Sector Report 2014 and believes that such a report is needed on an annual basis in the current climate of public sector upheaval and funding cuts.

England has the best drug treatment system in the world, it exists because of the investment of far sighted statesmen from all political parties and the dedication of amazing people, organisations and public officials over the last 50 years.

Blenheim is concerned however that cuts in drugs and alcohol services funding will have a major impact on some of the most vulnerable in our communities.

John Jolly, CEO Blenheim, said “I fear we are potentially seeing the end of the best drug and alcohol treatment system in the world. Its decline will be marked by lost opportunities and an increasing death toll as we fail to respond to rapidly increasing drug related deaths, health needs, and tackle issues such as hepatitis C, HIV, liver disease, and fail to adequately resource harm reduction services.”

Blenheim is concerned that the State of the Sector Report reveals;

  • Evidence of deep and widespread disinvestment and planned disinvestment in drug and alcohol services. Over 70 services indicating cuts in funding with an average net reduction of 16.5%
  • A third of local authorities indicating decisions to reduce funding in 2014/15 and 2015/16 (PHE report)
  • The massive scale of re-commissioning and tender renegotiation leading to the widespread disruption of services. (54% since Sept 13 with another 49% indicating will happen between Sept 14 – Sept 15)
  • Cuts in frontline drug and alcohol staff across the country and increasing caseloads
  • Worsening access to mental health services
  • Worsening provision of outreach services
  • Worsening access to housing and resettlement provision
  • Worsening access to employment support
  • Lack of provision for older clients
  • Negative impact of prison staffing cuts on access to treatment
  • Little confidence in Police and crime plans and Joint Strategic needs Assessments/Joint Health and Wellbeing strategies reflected local needs
  • Reduction’s in harm reduction services at a time of increases in drug related deaths
  • Commissioning processes that discriminate against excellent small and medium sized organisations delivering excellent local services

The moving of drug and alcohol service provision into Public Health has changed the focus away from the needs of vulnerable heavily addicted people with often multiple economic, social and health problems onto the needs of the wider population. The not insignificant needs of this far larger population will mean fewer resources overtime to support those heavily dependant on drugs and alcohol with multiple and complex needs.

Whilst the focus on the needs of the wider population is important Blenheim believe that this should not be at the expense of health services for those with the recognised medical conditions of alcohol use disorder or drug use disorder and the provision of support to tackle the often complex needs that surround these conditions.

Blenheim is seriously concerned that the provision of services to people with significant and multiple needs is being disrupted by frequent re-commissioning and system redesign. It has a hugely detrimental impact on the ability of organisations to care of people accessing services. It has had a significant negative effect on staff morale and the ability of charities to invest their resources into the provision of services which are increasingly diverted to funding tendering capacity.

Blenheim welcomes the concern expressed in the report in relation to housing, complex needs and employment. At Blenheim we are particularly concerned about the lack of access to the employment market for people with a history of drug and alcohol misuse, particularly where this is associated with criminal convictions. Changes to welfare benefits impacts detrimentally on housing stability and the level of homelessness experienced by our beneficiaries. The decommissioning of many NHS providers of drug and alcohol misuse services is resulting in a decline in many areas in access to specialist mental health service provision.

You can see the full report by Drugscope, on behalf of the Recovery Partnership here.

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