New system to tackle drug and drink problems

By on 17/12/2013 in Cllr Bedser, News
Cllr Steve Bedser

Cllr Steve Bedser

A major review of substance misuse and recovery in Birmingham will put a new focus on tackling the misery caused by drug and alcohol problems across the city.

Following an extensive consultation with service users and providers, proposals for the new £20 million-a-year system have been approved by Birmingham City Council's Cabinet. A competitive tendering process will now be carried out next year, with the new system scheduled for launch in early 2015.

Cabinet has agreed:

  • A single 'system' approach – all elements of provision contained within one contract
  • A family focus - to support the service user and to ensure the implementation of a robust approach to child safeguarding when they are parents/carers.
  • A recovery approach - as defined by the three overarching principles of wellbeing, citizenship and freedom from dependence (2010 National Drug Strategy).

The new system will be monitored for the following outcomes:

  • Reduction in re-offending
  • Improved housing
  • Improved parenting
  • Increased levels of employment
  • Robust children's safeguarding
  • Improvements in physical health
  • Improvements in mental health
  • Reduction in sexual health problems and blood borne virus transmission
  • Reduction in domestic violence
  • Ensuring protection for vulnerable adults
  • Percentage of drug users who are in full time employment for 10 working days following treatment, or upon discharge of treatment.
  • Numbers of hazardous, harmful or dependent drinkers completing treatment.

Cabinet member for Health and Wellbeing, Cllr Steve Bedser, said: “Drugs and alcohol cause untold misery across Birmingham. Not just for users but for their families and their neighbours.

“Now, under this new system, we will place much greater emphasis on prevention and on recovery for substance misusers.”

Report and appendices

Background to the substance misuse treatment system in Birmingham

Birmingham is a large and very diverse city with a population of 1.1million people. The drug and alcohol treatment/harm prevention system is one of the largest in the country with approximately 5,700 individuals in structured drug treatment and 8,000 harmful and dependent drinkers receiving some form of psychosocial support.

There is a general acknowledgement that the current Birmingham substance misuse treatment system is becoming increasingly out dated and that this may well start to affect future overall performance. Therefore, it is considered necessary that the treatment system be fundamentally reviewed, with reference to current national policy as well as local need.

This review informs the development of a new treatment model which will then be procured on the open market.

Supporting reasons for this review and the need to recommission the treatment system include:

  • There is a legacy of earlier piece-meal commissioning processes, structural inequalities and various inefficiencies due to the use of multiple contracts.
  • There are currently a range of services which have a greater emphasis on medical / pharmacological approaches including substitute opiate prescribing to addressing drug related harms as opposed to a new 'recovery' focus approach advocated by the National Drug Strategy 2010. The recovery agenda supports the aspiration of abstinence from illegal substances and promotes the positive reintegration into communities of those affected.
  • Unclear access points into treatment for potential service users, caused by an excessive number of often competing treatment providers.
  • A system which does not respond as effectively as it should to BME groups, women and the LGBT population across the city
  • A treatment system which needs to respond to changing substance misuse patterns in the City.
  • A lack of care coordination across the treatment system which often results in service users not necessarily receiving the range of provision they could benefit from.
  • Contracts have generally not been tested on the open market.

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