WATCHDOG LAUNCHED FOR LOCAL COMMISSIONING
REHABS PREPARE TO NAME AND SHAME LOCAL HEALTH AND COUNCIL CHIEFS
– IF REASONABLE, PROFESSIONAL DISCUSSIONS FAIL
- IF PROCUREMENT REGULATIONS IGNORED
The Concordat watchdog is officially launching on 14 September in the House of Commons. The event is being hosted by Amber Rudd MP (pictured). Deirdre Boyd and the Rt Hon Lord Mancroft will speak at the event.
The government’s drive to get addicts off drugs to reduce related crime, benefit dependency and the burden on the NHS, is at risk of being strangled at birth by poor commissioning, according to the Concordat expert group of over 40 UK drug-free rehab providers. It is launching the watchdog to help compliance where decisions of local drug and alcohol commissioners* do not use public funds in line with government policy and regulations.
The ‘Concordat’ of residential rehab providers decided to take the dramatic step of launching the watchdog as evidence mounts that commissioners around the country are going against government policy and underinvesting in abstinence-based recovery, the goal of government. This is evidenced by only 2% of addicts 'in the treatment system' being referred to rehabs where they can become free of all drugs and address causes of use in the first place.
JOINT STRENGTHS WITH THE NTA
Serious recognition of the need for best-practice commissioning is demonstrated in the agreement between the Concordat Watchdog and the National Treatment Agency on Substance Misuse to work complementarily together on specific commissioning issues/areas.
NTA programme manager Jez Stannard has written that he is keen to talk about “how we can work together to make best use of the intelligence that is gathered as part of the Concordat Watchdog". There will be a "NTA development that complements the Concordat Watchdog function: a ‘Rehab Watch’ on the NTA website, to provide a specific function for people to report any difficulties that they have experienced in accessing rehab".
The Concordat Watchdog has already achieved successes, for example by getting tender documents altered to comply with EU regulations so that they give fair opportunities to providers who wish to bid for contracts, rather than being skewed to preferential organisations with unfair competitive advantage. It has on call commissioning and legal experts and is seeking a clear-cut case to sue an individual local commissioner, to set an example. But in all cases, it will negotiate first.
Link to more Concordat Watchdog details.
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE STRATEGY DEPENDS ON COMMISSIONING
The coalition government set out a clear policy in its Drug Strategy last year to reform the drug treatment system to reduce bureaucracy and prioritise abstinence based recovery to help people overcome substance dependency, rather than continuing to support the maintenance of addiction via treatments such as prescribing methadone. However, implementation of the strategy depends on the commissioning decisions of NHS and Local Authority budget holders around the country, and there are signs that many of them are going against the agreed policy.
“Prime Minister David Cameron said this summer that: ‘Drugs policy has been a failure over recent years… We have spent too much time on heroin replacement and methadone rather than on trying to get people clean and clear up all the things in their lives that perhaps cause them to take drugs in the first place’. The concordat Watchdog’s ambition is to help support exactly that aim,” explained Concordat convener Deirdre Boyd, who is also CEO of the Addiction Recovery Foundation charity.
Wendy Dawson, chief executive of the award-winning charity Ley Community, and Concordat member and Watchdog adviser said: “The drug and alcohol recovery strategy is vital to the health and welfare of the nation, but it is at risk of being strangled at birth because some central and local civil servants are ignoring government policy. The watchdog will seek to ensure local people and taxpayers are not let down, and commissioning of proper recovery is not stifled by a deadly cocktail of inertia, fear and short-sightedness.”
She added: “The government has recognised that abstinence-based recovery is the best way to save individuals and communities from the cycle of addiction. We have come together to launch this watchdog because no-one – neither government nor national bodies – are doing anything to ensure this vital lifesaving, efficient and crime-preventing strategy is implemented on the ground.”
The Home Office set out what it called a ‘major change’ in approach in its Drug Strategy Reducing demand, restricting supply, building recovery: supporting people to live a drug free life, published last December.
*Budgets for all drug and alcohol treatment has been given to local PCTs who are assessing and commissioning treatment in partnership with local authority partners.
Link to more Concordat Watchdog details.