Plans for drug-rehab spark funding fears

GOVERNMENT plans to fund drug-rehabilitation services on an abstinence-only basis will hit the most vulnerable members of society, claims a Sowerby Bridge councillor.

Members of the adults, health and social care scrutiny panel were told drug treatment policy changes could mean service providers will only be paid when users are completely drug free.

Labour councillor David Draycott said the new system would be difficult to run and it could be used to cut back funding.

“I’m concerned about the narrowness of focus. There are other ways of measuring progress that may not be purely based on abstinence, such as harm reduction methods,” he said.

Michelle Foster, the chief executive of Halifax drug self-help organisation The Basement Project, was also worried the Government may withhold funding.

“Abstinence is a good idea, but it would be difficult to measure the results.

“If a person relapses after nine months they might not come back to us or they might go to other services,” she said.

The changes are a Government initiative driven through the Department of Health that plan to bring drugs users back into society.

The adults, health and social care department of the council said it would be at least a year before the initiative comes into effect and there may be big changes to the health service in the meantime.

It said there would be a lot of local flexibility with the way the changes are implemented into different regions of the country.

The council’s scrutiny panel has requested further information from officers.