Liverpool has been named as a drug abuse hotspot but its budget for addiction treatment services has been slashed.
The city in Merseyside has the highest rate of people being hospitalised from the mental effects of drug use in England. However, despite statistics revealing there is a clear substance misuse issue in Liverpool, the authorities have reduced the funding for rehabilitation and treatment.
Liverpool clinical commissioning group, which controls the healthcare budget for the city, has announced it is cutting the annual amount it gives Mersey Care – which provides mental health services and support for overcoming addiction – by £1.9 million. The organisation now claims it is the local authority’s responsibility to pay for treatment for addicts.
Joe Rafferty, chief executive of Mersey Care, has criticised the decision, saying it “demonstrated the ongoing stigma in respect of mental health and addiction services.”
According to the Liverpool Echo, there are currently 96 people who work for Mersey Care providing help and treatment to more than 1,000 drug users and alcoholics. Most of their work is funded by Liverpool Council but the clinical commissioning group had been contributing £1.9 million to help cover the costs of the services they deliver.
Bill is now responsibility of council
A spokesman for Liverpool clinical commissioning group said the responsibility for paying for addiction services had been transferred from the NHS to the council in 2013.
He told the Liverpool Echo: “To help with this transition, the CCG agreed that it would provide extra funding for these services on a temporary basis. This will come to an end in 2018, however, mental health is a key priority for the CCG and we will continue to offer support to both Liverpool city council and Mersey Care to improve services for local people.”
Liverpool has already hit the headlines for having a major substance misuse problem. In 2014/15, 198 men and 80 women were taken to hospital suffering from mental health issues or behavioural problems which were connected to drug misuse.
The figures work out at 58 people per 100,000 residents, which is the highest rate in England. A further 228 people were also hospitalised after being poisoned by illegal substances during 2014/15.
Drug testing can play an important role in establishing the severity of an individual’s addiction and monitoring their progress and recovery. AlphaBiolabs has a walk-in centre in Liverpool where nurses can collect samples for drug and alcohol tests as well as DNA tests.
Regular drug testing can be used as a deterrent for people trying to kick their addiction. It is also sometimes necessary for legal proceedings to demonstrate whether someone is continuing to misuse substances.
Offenders may be given a drug treatment and testing order which includes regular drug tests to try and reduce their substance misuse. And people involved in family court proceedings or disputes over custody of their child may be asked to take a drugs test to demonstrate they have overcome their addiction.