SDF Writes to ADP Chairs to Express Concern Over Treatment Funding

"It is clear that the sums involved are small in scale compared with the expanded NHS budget. While there will be pressure on any NHS budget, it is simply not efficient to make cuts where they may seem easiest."

Scottish Drugs Forum, on behalf of members working in the drugs field, have written a letter to all Alcohol and Drug Partnership (ADP) Chairs expressing support for the Cabinet Secretary's expectation that of proposed cuts to ADP budgets that pay for frontline services will be balanced with spend through increased local Health Board budgets

The Scottish Government draft budget, published in December 2015, included a reduction in funding from £69.2 million in the current financial year to £53.8 million in 2016-17.

The Cabinet Secretary for Health, Shona Robinson, declared last month that she had written a letter to Health Board Chief Executives stating her expectation that they would cover the cost of the cuts with their expanded budgets, however despite this there is still uncertainty that this will be delivered.

Our letter to ADP Chairs states that Scotland is very likely to see a substantial increase in drug-related deaths in the figures to be released in August – an increase on last year’s all-time high figure of 613 fatal overdose deaths and that there are major concerns that funding decisions for 2016/17 will impact adversely on figures for the current year and also through impacts on services.

We would also foresee an increase in other harms including:

  • Blood-borne virus (HCV and HIV) infections and bacterial infections(e.g. botulism)
  • A&E attendance and hospital admissions
  • Child protection work in supporting vulnerable children of drug using parents
  • Drug-driven crime and involvement in criminal justice including imprisonment
  • Homelessness

There is a body of evidence of the savings that treatment and care services make to wider costs. It is clear that any disinvestment will not deliver any real savings, to society or the Government or even within the context of health budgets. In fact the exact opposite would be the case.

It is clear that the sums involved are small in scale compared with the expanded NHS budget. While there will always be pressure on any NHS budget, it is simply not efficient to make cuts where they may seem easiest. 

The existence of Alcohol and Drugs Partnerships is an acknowledgement of both the complexity of problem substance use and the vulnerability and stigmatisation of people affected.  It is therefore incumbent on us all to defend people and the services that work with them at a time of considerable pressure. We consider that this is best achieved by securing the overall budget maintained at last year’s figure.

Given the above, SDF has urged that each ADP argues the case very strongly with NHS Boards that cuts to the budget will lead to very negative outcomes for us all and especially those who find themselves among Scottish society’s most vulnerable populations.

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