Team head supports Scots drug protocol

    The chair of Edinburgh’s drug action team has backed a new
    protocol for dealing with parents with substance misuse problems
    but admitted it would be difficult to implement.

    Tom Wood said it would be a “real challenge” for substance
    misuse workers in four councils to implement the guidance because
    of the extra responsibilities it would put on them and increased
    pressure on resources.

    The protocol asks child care agencies to find out whether
    parents have substance misuse problems. Drug and alcohol action
    team staff are then required to assess the impact of a parent’s
    substance misuse on their family.

    Last month, social workers complained the new guidance was
    unworkable with current staffing levels and that it could frighten
    off some clients.

    But Wood said these legitimate fears must be overcome. “It is a
    communication challenge for professionals to make sure clients
    understand they are not a threat and are not going to go out
    wholesale to take children into care and split up families.”

    Wood said changes to the system were inevitable because it had
    been shown to be at fault in the death of 11-week-old Caleb Ness,
    who died as a result of a brain haemorrhage after being shaken by
    his father. An investigation found his mother’s drug dependency and
    father’s violent past had not been taken into account when
    assessing care arrangements.

    The protocol was drawn up by the inter-agency pan-Midlothian
    working group (which covers Edinburgh, Midlothian, East Lothian and
    West Lothian Councils).

    Wood is chair of the Edinburgh Action Team on Alcohol and
    Drugs.

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