UK LOSES MUCH-NEEDED WOMEN-ONLY ADDICTION-TREATMENT CENTRE
Pierpoint’s Female Focus forced to shut down 29 January.
“To my knowledge, we provided the only gender-specific service dedicated to women trying to recover from addiction, including detox,” sighed director John Grady, who runs Pierpoint treatment services including its Female Focus unit.
“Not only am I terribly sad at having been forced to make such a difficult decision, which impacts on so many lives, but I feel frustrated and angry that such a course of action should have been remotely necessary in these times of chronic drug and alcohol misuse nationally. I feel particularly badly let down by commissioners of Tier 4 services for failing to purchase services that they themselves proclaimed were required, and for the apparent lack of interest and support shown by all regions of the National Treatment Agency, as well as by the NTA itself.”
Female Focus comprised a dedicated 8-bed Inpatient detoxification unit allied to an 8-bed residential rehabilitation centre specifically for women (including pregnant women) with drug and/or alcohol problems (these were in addition to 9 male-sepcific detox beds at Pierpoint). When it opened last August, Grady contacted all 149 Drug/Alcohol Action Team commissioners and nine NTA regional managers throughout the country to alert them to this cost-effective service – costs ranged from under £600 to £1,200 per week: less than some B&Bs!
All Pierpoint’s centres are CSCI-registered, with excellent Inspection reports. It is signed up for the EATA gold-standard accreditation of its treatment programme, and has been accredited Investors in People since 2003.
However, the DAAT commissioners did not refer women as patients to the service.
”I then wrote to NTA treatment delivery manager Colin Bradbury, outlining our unsustainable position because of low occupancy levels, and seeking guidance on how to avert the closure of this very valuable resource,” Grady said. “I explained that it would be a tragic loss to the substance-misuse field if we hadto close, on account of being unable to keep 17 medically-monitored detox beds reasonably- well occupied at a sustainable level. I added that it was an even more horrendous prospect when you consider that our two CSCI-registered gender-specific detox units were not only competitively-priced, but delivering some of the best outcomes in the country at over 92% success rates.”
He wrote: “In view of the fact that the NTA has published on its website the Statements of Needs & Priorities for all its regions, which unequivocally state that MORE medically-monitored detox provision as well as specialist Women’s services are required, perhaps you could inform me which commissioners, DAATs and other purchasing agencies contributed to this belief that this is what is needed. We feel certain that these services ARE needed, but it concerns us greatly that, having provided them, they are not being sufficiently utilised by purchasers, who now risk losing them. “
It is hard to imagine, given the size of the drug and alcohol problem in the UK, that there are not enough people in need of such a service. So does the problem lie with the statutory commissioners (purchasers) of these services? Grady reports no responses from commissioners, bar one admirable exception.
“At the very least, I had hoped that there would have been some show of interest or concern. But sadly,not a word. Interestingly, the day after we closed, I received an email from Colin Bradbury – a classic case of too little too late.”
Grady said, positively, that he fully agrees with the NTA on its recommendations to commissioners to engage with providers on ‘block contracts’. The obvious benefit to providers is contracts provide a guaranteed income stream, rather than the current uncertainties surrounding spot-purchases. There are also financial benefits for the purchasers through possible discounts. “If we could engage in sufficient block contracts to secure adequate funding for Pierpoint House, I would be prepared to consider re-opening Female Focus, but I really do need some form of guarantee of revenue before contemplating such a move again,”Grade concluded reasonably.