People needing support for drug or alcohol misuse are set to benefit from a new service in Stoke-on-Trent.
City council Cabinet members this week gave agreement to begin the procurement for one integrated community drug and alcohol service in the city to last for the next five years. This will give improved long-term support for people in need and will ensure stability, be more consistent and effective, and deliver more value for money.
Following detailed consultation with partners, service users and staff, the proposal is to bring together three existing services including the Community Drug and Alcohol Service (CDAS), Inpatient Detoxification Service and Stoke Recovery Service under the new contract arrangements.
The contract would also manage the supervised consumption and prescribing budget, giving the provider more control over this part of the treatment system.
Allan Sargeant is in recovery from substance misuse and has benefited from the support services available in the city. The 42-year-old now volunteers at CDAS.
He said: “When I got into recovery I accessed Stoke Recovery Service, where through their encouragement I was able to start living and understanding a life I’d never experienced before, and how to successfully interact in society as a whole.
“By living in Meakin House for 10 months I was able to utilise the continual support available to start moving forward, and to see my potential in a way of life full of opportunities.
“I now volunteer at Stoke-on-Trent CDAS and have been encouraged throughout to use my experiences for others who may not be able to see hope in their personal lives, and to encourage them on the start and progression of their recovery journey. This also helps me to give something back to the services that played a major part in who I am today.”
Councillor Ann James, Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s cabinet member for health and social care, said: “It is not the case that we are cutting methadone prescribing, as has been previously and inaccurately reported.
“We currently hold the budget for prescribing and pay for medication plus a dispensing fee. We are proposing to move this supervised consumption and prescribing budget over to the provider under the new contract. This will incentivise them to manage this budget better and reduce unnecessary reliance on supervised consumption and daily pick-up, which can sometimes be onerous and inconvenient for service users trying to rebuild their lives.
“We carried out a thorough consultation process with our partners, service users and staff and with their support I am confident it will be better for our service users – and fundamentally it is important to note that it is common practice almost everywhere else in the country.
“The new service will continue to follow clinical and best practice guidelines to offer the best possible support for anyone living in the area who needs help for substance misuse. Its focus will be on building communities with visible and supportive recovery networks, and helping people to achieve abstinence and long-term recovery.
“Savings that we are making will not impact on the availability or accessibility of treatment for people with drug problems in Stoke-on-Trent. A diverse range of support will continue to be readily available.”
Chief Inspector Phil Eaton from Staffordshire Police has given his support to the proposals.
He said: “Drug and alcohol misuse has a significant impact on the levels of crime and anti-social behaviour in the city.
“We are very much in support of moving towards a recovery-focused drug and alcohol service that will support people away from addiction and into long-term recovery. An effective service such as this will see benefits not just for the individuals but the wider community as a whole.”
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