Time running out for extra millions

    Workers in alcohol misuse services were told last week that they
    have 18 months to make the case for winning funding equivalent to
    that allocated to drug services.

    Delegates at a conference on tackling alcohol-related crime
    expressed frustration at the government’s failure to pledge funding
    for the treatment of alcohol misuse or to set targets in its
    alcohol strategy, published in March.

    Annette Dale Perera, director of quality at the National Treatment
    Agency, said much work still needed to be done to convince the
    government before the next spending review.

    “Alcoholics are an unpopular client group, like drug users,” she
    told delegates.

    “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 no.

    “We haven’t got a seminal document on what alcohol treatment works
    that is agreed among all stakeholders.”

    Perera said the sector still needed evidence-based frameworks,
    clinical models and data sets, and a cost-benefit analysis
    indicating crime reduction, health benefits and impact on
    families.

    Frank Warburton, director of services at the charity DrugScope,
    said that, although drug users were now accessing treatments within
    weeks, those with alcohol problems had to wait six months.

    He joined other delegates in suggesting that prime minister Tony
    Blair’s recent meeting with brewers to discuss alcohol-related
    crime underlined the low priority given to treatment and
    services.

    “I would raise questions about a partnership that is dependent on
    the self-regulation of a very large and profitable industry,” he
    said.

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