Dame Carol Black published her report last week in the second part of your independent drug review, focusing on drug prevention, treatment and recovery. A government response to the report is expected soon. We are pleased to have supported Dame Carol’s review and welcome her powerful findings.
The review was based on an impressive wealth and range of knowledge. Many stakeholders in drug treatment and recovery, including current and former users of the service, participated in consultations, roundtables, and one-on-one meetings with Dame Carol.
They provided invaluable information and feedback on the current state of drug treatment and recovery services and what is needed to improve them. These contributions were essential in gaining insight into the report and I would like to thank everyone who participated in this process.
The review makes clear that the drug treatment and recovery system in England cannot function to the standard necessary to address current challenges. Yet despite these challenging circumstances, local services and authorities continue to work hard to meet the needs of the communities they serve, and there are some excellent examples of good practice and innovation across the country.
The sector had to respond quickly to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, continuing to provide support by adapting services in very short time frames. We need to recognize the dedication and commitment of the many individuals who have worked to support service users in this time of unique challenges.
The shortcomings outlined in the report must be recognized as the basis for much-needed long-term change, in which we all have a role to play.
A new era of treatment and recovery in England
The release of the report and the government’s response present an opportunity for a new era of treatment and recovery in England. Progress is already being made this year with additional government funding of £ 80 million for drug addiction treatment provided to local authorities.
This is the largest increase in funding for drug treatment in 15 years. You are paying for much-needed improvements to treatment pathways for individuals in the criminal justice system, for expanded capacity across the treatment system (including addressing the shortage in dedicated hospital detoxification), and for additional downsizing activities. of damages and recovery.
The The Accelerator program is also based on the Project ADDER pilots, which began in 2020-21, taking a full system approach in 8 local authority areas by bringing together enforcement, diversion, treatment and recovery programs (including housing and employment).
Although this £ 80m funding is time limited, we hope it sets the stage for more sustained domestic investment in the future, what the review recommends is essential. Dame Carol emphasizes the need to improve capacity and competence in the sector, and to work more closely in physical and mental health care.
The report proposes changes in hiring, increased accountability and funding for treatment services, as well as improved employment and housing support, which is so critical to helping people maintain recovery.
Changes in the way the system operates, particularly in relation to accountability and transparency, are as essential as an additional investment if we are to make a real and sustained difference.
We welcome other recent positive initiatives and investments, including new funding for eligible local authorities to improve drug and alcohol treatment services for people who sleep outside or are at risk of sleeping outside.
My fingers are crossed that this funding continues for years to come, as it will make a significant contribution to the government’s ambition to end the hard sleep before the end of Parliament, but also provides an invaluable link for those who sleep rough and they fight for access treatment.
The Department of Work and Pensions has also made additional new funding available that builds on the work of the IPS-AD test to expand access to the innovative Individual Placement and Support approach to employment support. I hope this will continue for years to come as well and help more people move from treatment to stable and sustained employment that supports their recovery.
We at PHE are ready to play an important role in the implementation of the government’s response to the recommendations of the review and I want to assure you that the current responsibilities and aspirations that we have in this area will be assumed by the Office of Health Promotion as of October.
However, the impetus to make improvements to the system requires a partnership between all those involved at all levels. We hope that the government’s response lays the foundation for commissioners, vendors, experienced experts, and partner agencies to work together, with us and others in government, to improve the quality and scope of services for people who use drugs. and to improve outcomes for themselves, their families, and their communities.
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