Workers in alcohol misuse services were told this week that they
have 18 months to make the case for winning resources on a par with
those allocated for drug treatments, writes Craig
Delegates at the conference Tackling Alcohol Related Crime were
frustrated that the Government’s alcohol strategy pledged no
funding for treatment and set no targets.
But Annette Dale-Perera, director of quality at the Health
Service’s National Treatment Agency, said that much work
still needed to be done to convince the Government prior to the
next spending review.
‘Alcoholics are an unpopular client group, like drug
users,’ she said. ‘We need to make the case to invest
in alcohol treatment or we won’t get the money. Could you
spend £100 million wisely? I suspect that the answer would be
‘We haven’t got a seminal document on what alcohol
treatment works that’s agreed among all stakeholders,’
Dale-Perera said treatment for alcohol abuse still needed
evidence-based frameworks, clinical models and data sets and a
cost-benefit analysis indicating crime reduction, health benefits
and impact on families.
‘Current Department of Health thinking is that if we
don’t get the extra money they will try to build it in as an
NHS priority,’ she added.
Frank Warburton, director of services at the charity DrugScope,
said that while drug users were now accessing treatments within
weeks, those with alcohol problems had to wait six months.
John Reading, chief executive of the charity Action for Change,
said that all Primary Care Trusts in East Sussex had been
instructed not to spend additional money on alcohol services –
despite coastal towns like Brighton being a magnet for binge
drinkers. ‘The only guaranteed inpatient detox we can access
is at Lewes Prison,’ he said.