Addictions UK are alarmed that almost £2 million will be axed from Merseyside’s addiction treatment services – despite Liverpool being named England’s drug abuse capital.
Liverpool clinical commissioning group (CCG), which has an £855 million annual budget for healthcare in the city, announced it will stop giving mental health trust Mersey Care £1.9 million a year for addiction services from 2018. Last month, it was revealed how Liverpool had the highest rate in England of people taken to hospital with drug-related mental health or behavioural problems.
Simon Stephens, Addictions UK Director of Case Work said “These Cuts are a blow for Merseyside and the third sector agencies operating in that Authority and it will prove to be a false economy ‘
Why is Liverpool the drug abuse capital of England?
Mersey Care’s chief executive Joe Rafferty accused NHS chiefs of stigmatising the mentally ill. In a board meeting, Mr Rafferty said he saw the move as “opportunistic cost-cutting and demonstrated the ongoing stigma in respect of mental health and addiction services”.
The CCG says changes in the law mean it is now Liverpool council’s responsibility to pay for addiction treatment in the city. But public sector union Unison says the CCG and council should “stop squabbling and make sure that the funding is made available to continue this essential service”.
The union says 96 Mersey Care employees work in addiction treatment, helping more than 1,000 drug and alcohol addicts get clean and rebuild their lives. Amanda Gregory, Unison’s Liverpool branch secretary, said: “To cut the addictions service would be a false economy. “If the service were not available, it would cause unnecessary suffering for our service users and will create more pressures on A&Es “It would be damaging to Liverpool if this high-quality NHS service was lost. “Unison will support our members through this worrying and uncertain time. “Liverpool CCG and the city council need to stop squabbling and make sure that the funding is made available to continue this essential service.”
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There were 278 people taken to hospital in the city in 2014/15 with drug-related mental health or behavioural problems.
This is equivalent to 58 people per 100,000 residents – the highest rate in England. The total included 198 men and 80 women. And there were 228 people in Liverpool taken to hospital after suffering poisoning from illegal drugs in 2014/15, the most recent year for which figures are available.
Mersey Care receives £4.6 million a year for addiction services from Liverpool Council as well as £1.9 million from the CCG. – But the CCG says the council should now pick up the whole bill…. Mersey Care has called for negotiations with NHS dispute resolution experts.. A Liverpool CCG spokesman said: “In 2013, responsibility for commissioning addiction services moved from the NHS to local authorities. “To help with this transition, the CCG agreed that it would provide extra funding for these services on a temporary basis. “This will come to an end in 2018, however, mental health is a key priority for the CCG and we will continue to offer support to both Liverpool city council and Mersey Care to improve services for local people.”
Addictions UK works extensively in the North West of England including Greater Manchester and Merseyside conducting Home-based Addictions Treatment and Home Medical Detox services. For further information contact us on freephone 0800 1 40 40 44 or www.addictionsuk.com or by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org