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Cash Boost for Drug and Alcohol Treatment in England

The Government has set out details of top-up funding to improve drug and alcohol addiction treatment and recovery in England. Local authorities could expect to receive an extra £421 million spread over the next two financial years to support more than 50,000 additional treatment places and boost staff recruitment, it said.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) would provide £154.3 million in additional grants in 2023-24 and planned to spend a further £266.7 million in 2024-25. The money was on top of the additional £95.4 million made available during the current financial year, it said.

England's Health and Social Care Secretary, Steve Barclay, said: "Drug misuse has a massive cost to society – more than 3000 people died as a result of drug misuse in 2021. This investment in treatment and recovery services is crucial to provide people with high-quality support, with services such as expanding access to life-saving overdose medicines and outreach to young people at risk of drug misuse already helping to reduce harm and improve recovery."

10-Year Drugs Strategy

Local authorities and their partners have been asked to submit plans to improve their treatment and recovery programmes for ratification with the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities. Ministers said the announcement built on ambitions in the Government's 2021 10-year drugs plan, From harm to hope, aimed at combating illegal drug use, cutting drug-related crime, and saving lives.

Funding would be prioritised for areas with the highest need, based on the rate of drug deaths, deprivation, opiate and crack cocaine prevalence and crime, and would take into account of the size of the treatment population, the DHSC said. Treatment would be offered for a wide range of substances, including powder cocaine, ecstasy, prescription drugs, and cannabis, it added.

The DHSC cited a few examples of work it had supported in the current financial year. These included:

  • Leeds planning to target unmet need from groups with greatest social and economic deprivation with the poorest health outcomes, expanding treatment options, and increasing their workforce by 85 full-time posts
  • Plans by Lambeth to recruit additional nurses to ease frontline pressures on the substance misuse service and develop a nurse-led outreach prescribing service for residents in the vulnerable adults pathway
  • Portsmouth planning to develop its peer-led outreach service, which engages with hard-to-reach drug users, including those in the criminal justice system

Professor Dame Carol Black, who advises the Government on drugs misuse, said: "This continued investment is very welcome, and will be crucial in supporting local authorities and their partners to increase the capacity and quality of their services for people with drug and alcohol dependence, in line with the key recommendations of my independent review of drugs."

Danny Hames and Kate Hall, chair and vice-chair of the NHS Addictions Provider Alliance, said: "We hope that the additional £421 million funding allocated to local authorities across England will be utilised to shape a joined-up system that ensures everyone in need has equal access to high-quality care. This cannot be achieved without partnership work across the sector, something that we are committed to doing as an alliance of NHS trusts, in a continued effort to reduce the rising number of drug-related deaths seen annually and positively change the lives of thousands of people."