DDN March 2022 March 2022 | Page 8



February ’ s Westminster Social Policy Forum seminar heard from experts including Professor Dame Carol Black on re-shaping the sector in the wake of the government ’ s new financial commitment


greatest worry about my review and its potential is can we deliver it at the local level ,’ Professor Dame Carol Black told the Westminster Social Policy Forum ’ s Tackling drug dependence and improving delivery of services seminar . ‘ We ’ ve acquired the investment – that was of course crucial , but there must be much greater accountability for the spend .’
The Treasury fully intended to ‘ hold us to account ’, she stated , echoing warnings from others in the field ( DDN , February , page 8 ). Local authorities would need to work with wider health , employment , housing support , criminal justice and social care , and develop joint commissioning plans and joint needs assessments . Years of austerity had meant that the idea of creating a whole systemsapproach ‘ wasn ’ t able to happen ’, she said , ‘ and what I ’ m hoping from my review is that we ’ ll now be able to do that , because it ’ s absolutely needed .’ This would require at least six departments of state to be ‘ truly and sustainably involved ’, she said . While it ‘ wasn ’ t that they hadn ’ t been interested before ’, competing
priorities meant that it had always been low on their agenda .
All but one of the 32 recommendations in her Review of drugs : phase two report had been taken on board in the government ’ s new drug strategy , which was ‘ very pleasing ’ – and accompanied by a financial settlement that was ‘ probably 70 per cent of what I ’ d asked for in the original part two review ’ and ‘ very big ’ ambition . ‘ But I don ’ t want , now that we ’ ve got more money , to just do more of the same ,’ she stated . ‘ This is a unique opportunity to really think about what does a very good treatment and recovery service look like .’
STARTING FROM A LOW BASE It was important to be aware that in some places ‘ we ’ re starting from a low base , and we ’ ll need to support and enable improvement in some of our local areas ,’ she said . The sector was facing a challenging journey , not least in terms of re-building the workforce . ‘ That ’ s going to require a really sustained focus – we can ’ t just do it overnight .’ Similarly , research had been ‘ bottom of the pile ’ in almost every aspect of addiction , with a corresponding lack of financial support .
Workforce was a ‘ critical challenge ’, agreed head of
‘ How do we keep this energy up ... There ’ s a willingness to think about doing things differently .’
inclusion at Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust , Danny Hames . There was promising evidence of positive cross-sector working , but providers needed to be ‘ brave and a bit humble ’, he said . ‘ We need to open ourselves up to accountability and be transparent , but we also need to be sure we ’ re working in the best interests of patients . Collaboration is absolutely key .’
‘ We need to be sure we ’ re working in the best interests of patients . Collaboration is key .’
MOVING FORWARD ‘ We ’ re at the point where we have to look at the competence of our own clinical practices and commissioning process so we can move the field forward ,’ said head of King ’ s College London ’ s National Addiction Centre , Professor Sir John Strang . One of the major challenges would be improving the quality – as well as the quantity – of treatment , and there
Irina Zadvinskaya / iStock