England has the best drug treatment system in the world; it exists because of the vision of far sighted people from all political parties and the dedication of amazing staff, organisations, charities and public officials over the last 50 years.
Cuts in drugs and alcohol funding, along with the lack of political leadership and the lack of priority in England may in the coming years have a major negative impact on some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.
The moving of drugs funding into Public Health England, where illicit drug use is not a strategic priority, has given a green light to some local authorities to make heart breaking cuts in services, Birmingham being one example.
There has never been a more urgent need to have clear English government leadership matching that of Scotland. Spelling out the responsibilities of local authorities along with the levers to ensure they deliver. I would like the next government to take clear action to protect the best drug and alcohol treatment system in the world. Provide better opportunities for those in recovery and significantly reduce the death toll by committing to harm reduction, responding more robustly to rapidly increasing numbers of drug and alcohol related death and serious illness. I also would like to see a greater emphasis on responding to other health needs of those with drug and alcohol problems.
Any government with an ounce of decency would follow the Portuguese example and move rapidly to bring hepatitis C treatment up to the standards of HIV treatment. If hepatitis C treatment was running trains only 3 in every 100 would get to work and many would die on the platform.
I would like to see the incoming government do the following things with drug and alcohol treatment policy and funding;
- Identify and appoint a single Senior Government Minister to be responsible for drug and alcohol policy, accountable to Parliament
- Commit to evidenced-based practice
- Ensure everyone in recovery from drug and alcohol problems has opportunities to rebuild their lives
- Develop a national harm-reduction strategy to reduce drug and alcohol related deaths and ill health
- Widen of the access to residential treatment focusing on need rather than the failure of everything else
- A minimum unit price for alcoholic drinks is introduced along with health warnings on labels and prominent display of calorie’s
- Create a national commissioning Ombudsman, to ensure transparency and accountability for local commissioning decisions
- Widen the remit of the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to include all local authority-commissioned drug and alcohol services
- Ensure the competence and appropriate accreditation of the drugs and alcohol sector workforce, in line with other areas of health and social welfare, by investing in an independent association
- Follow the guidance provided by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD)
- Reinvigorate independent research on drugs and alcohol to fill the gap left by the UK Drug Policy Commission (UKDPC)
- Ensure comprehensive access to the life-saving drug Naloxone, across the whole of the United Kingdom, in line with World Health Organization (WHO), ACMD and public health guidelines and advice.
- Ensure the availability of services and National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) -approved treatments for all patients diagnosed with hepatitis C, in line with international guidelines
- Everyone in recovery from drug and alcohol problems has opportunities to rebuild their lives,
- Ensure access to safe and secure housing, employment and meaningful activity and support for health and mental health
- Investment is provided for a national programme to tackle the stigma and discrimination experienced by people in recovery from drug and alcohol problems
- ensures expenditure on drugs and alcohol treatment is maintained at a time of severe budgetary pressure on local authorities