Drink and Drugs News DDN November 2019 (1) - Page 7
NGE TRIP IT ’ S BEEN
realistically be delivered in the current economic climate.
2011 The government publishes its Health and social care bill,
setting out plans to transfer responsibility for public health to local
authorities and described by the King’s Fund as ‘the biggest shake-up
of the NHS since its inception’. The country’s ‘heroin drought’ continues,
leading to warnings of increased overdose rates when supplies become
more plentiful, and the Global Commission on Drug Policy – which
includes ex-presidents and a former UN secretary general – calls for an
end to the ‘criminalisation, marginalisation and stigmatisation’ of people
who use drugs.
2012 New synthetic drugs are now being detected in the EU at
the rate of one per week, say EMCDDA and Europol, while a UNAIDS
document reveals 170,000 new HIV infections in Eastern Europe, mainly
via contaminated injecting equipment. Colorado and Washington become
the first US states to vote to legalise cannabis, while boss of the fledgling
Public Health England (PHE), Duncan Selbie, promises to ensure that drug
treatment is evidence-led and says that moving public health to local
government is a ‘stroke of genius’.
2013 PHE starts its work, officially taking over the NTA’s responsibilities,
while outgoing UKDPC chief Roger Howard warns that people still don’t
fully appreciate the ‘profound reshaping of public spending’ on the way.
Signifying how the drugs landscape is changing, EMCDDA says the internet is
becoming a ‘game changer’ for distribution and the National Aids Trust calls
for appropriate support for people involved in the ‘chemsex’ scene.
2014 In contrast to the coming years, Scotland’s drug-related death total
falls by 9 per cent, although fatalities are rising south of the border. More
than a third of services questioned for a DrugScope report say their funding
has been cut, while the following year the organisation itself will go into
liquidation, citing the worsening financial situation.
2015 The new majority Conservative government announces its
‘landmark’ blanket NPS ban – which will become the following year’s
controversial Psychoactive Substances Act – and its spending review reduces
shrinking levels of local authority funding yet further. In what is to become a
starts its work,
over the NTA’s
depressingly familiar announcement,
Scotland and England both record their
highest levels of drug-related deaths.
2016 The CMO revises
recommended alcohol consumption
levels, making them among the
lowest in the world, while the bleak
financial news keeps coming with 70
per cent of local directors of public
health saying they expect their drug
and alcohol services to face cuts. Rodrigo Duterte goes on the presidential
campaign trail in the Philippines promising to kill people who sell and use
drugs, and wins, while people in the UK also go to the polls – to vote on
something called Brexit.
2017 The Drug strategy 2017 is published as Lifeline shuts up shop after 50
years and the ACMD says funding cuts are now the biggest threat to treatment
recovery outcomes and a ‘catalyst for disaster’. The Welsh Government
announces its own plans for minimum pricing, and the National Crime Agency
(NCA) issues a warning about fentanyl use in the UK as America’s opioid crisis
sees overdose levels quadruple since the turn of the century.
2018 The NHS sets out its plan for England to be the first place in the
world to eliminate hep C, while the Royal College of Physicians comes out
for decriminalisation and Canada legalises cannabis for recreational use.
Minimum pricing finally comes into force in Scotland and, worryingly, the
NCA says modern slavery referrals of minors are up by two thirds, mainly
because of county lines gangs.
2019 County lines activity is still on the up, as is crack use, and City Roads
becomes the field’s latest casualty. Prisons continue to struggle with rising
NPS use and Release warns that councils are providing ‘drastically insufficient’
levels of naloxone. And 12 years after the RSA’s call for a shift from a criminal
justice to a health-based approach, and with government business consumed
by Brexit, the Health and Social Care Committee calls for…a shift from a
criminal justice to a health-based approach. Whatever happens, however,
DDN will be there to report it – thanks for sticking with us. DDN
NOVEMBER 2019 • DRINK AND DRUGS NEWS • 7