The proposed changes to the provision of drug treatment programmes across Bassetlaw and the rest of the county are all about getting the best value for the public purse, according to David Pearson, deputy chief executive of Notts County Council.
Mr Pearson and his county colleagues were met with some criticism and opposition when they held a consultation meeting for Bassetlaw at the District Council offices.
Many people at the meeting feel Bassetlaw’s current system of localised treatment programmes run by GPs, rather than potential tendering of the scheme out to outside companies, should stay as it is.
But Mr Pearson said all talk of changes and a new model was not about undoing any of the good work done in Bassetlaw in the last decade but simply about getting the best deal for the taxpayer.
“All public services need to make sure that the best services possible are provided from the public purse and we have a responsibility to make sure that we’re clear about what the outcomes are for the people of Bassetlaw and Nottinghamshire as a whole,” he said.
“We want the best people possible providing those services at the best possible price and it is the responsibility of the county council to make sure that is the case.”
One suggestion that was put forward during the meeting was that Bassetlaw could go it alone within the county and retain its current set-up, even if the rest of Nottinghamshire adopted a new model.
But Mr Pearson, while not dismissing the concept, was cooler on the idea and felt a more uniform approach for the whole of the county would be favoured by the panel that will ultimately decide on the strategy once the consultation period ends.
“What we’re saying is that the approach we take will, we think, probably will be consistent across the county but who delivers it and the way it is delivered could be slightly different.” he continued.
“We have a large county and we’ve got to be clear about what the outcomes are that we want from these services and that they can be delivered in a locally sensitive way.”
Mr Pearson also denied Bassetlaw MP John Mann’s claim that any changes would undo 10 years of hard work in the district.
“What we’re looking to do is to take the best of what is available in Nottinghamshire in terms of the approach and see whether we can improve that further in the way that we provide or commission services,” he said.
“So things like making sure that people are on that recovery journey in treatment has got to be an approach that is right.”
“And in the detailed discussions I haven’t heard anybody say it’s not a good idea to have the objective to have people, where possible, live without substitute medication and have a fruitful life and get the jobs they want and in that way, we absolutely share the same objectives.”