Privatising drugs and alcohol services would return Bassetlaw ‘to the chaos of its drug-epidemic past,’ an inquiry into heroin misuse has predicted.
The panel on an inquiry, which came 10 years after John Mann Mann launched a major probe into why Bassetlaw had been dubbed ‘the heroin hot spot,’ has concluded that the current GP-led addiction treatment is working well.
But they stressed that the evidence heard during the inquiry, held earlier this year, ‘overwhelmingly proves the need to retain the current service.’
The panel has released extracts from the inquiry as Notts County Council closed its consultation into how substance misuse treatment and recovery services in the county are delivered.
It said many aspects of life in Bassetlaw had been transformed over the last 10 years. It claimed drug-related hospital admissions has annually saved Bassetlaw in excess of £500,000, has reduced police, court and prison costs and has increased the number of tax payers, with many former addicts finding employment.
The panel concluded: “The county council’s plans for a new, private provider to start running a country-wide service in 2014, with only one guaranteed treatment point in Bassetlaw, is therefore viewed by the panel as a move which will jeopardise the progress that has been made in Bassetlaw over the past decade.”
“The testimonies collected during the consultation process show that this would collapse confidence locally in addiction treatment, reduce access and begin to reverse the positive effects of the GP treatment.”
“The panel recommends in the strongest terms that the GP service remains to provide addiction treatment in Bassetlaw.”
Mr Mann submitted hundreds of personal testimonies and petitions from residents as part of a campaign to save the GP-led treatment services.
He said: “The conclusions from the report of the inquiry that I have released show that the evidence overwhelmingly supports our current treatment system in Bassetlaw, and presents the dangers of a private provider attempting to cover the whole of Notts.”
“This would leave Bassetlaw marginalised, with only one treatment centre guaranteed, and would lead to higher crime rates and a return to the overdose epidemic we all thought that we had left behind a decade ago.”
Coun Joyce Bosnjak, chairman of Notts County Council’s health and wellbeing board, said the council is currently considering all the responses submitted during the consultation.
She said: “The consultation on substance misuse and recovery services in Notts, which has just closed, has been looking to establish whether there is a better system which we can introduce that enables fair access to services based on people’s need.”
“We spend between £12-13 million a year on these services, and therefore have a legal responsibility to tender any services that we commission through the appropriate channels, as well as a moral duty to our tax payers and service users to ensure this level of spend is offering the best in terms of value for money and outcomes.”
“We want to see if there are ways to help more people successfully through the system and out the other side – something that would in turn ease the burden on the system, reduce crime and help more people back into work and living normal, drug-free lives.”
“There have been a large number of responses to the consultation, and the county council is now in the process of considering all of them. The council will publish its view on these services after advice from an expert panel in November.”