Rehab boss gets the needle over 'name and shame' success

A DRAMATIC drop in the number of addicts sent to Weston for drug and alcohol treatment has been 'bad for business', according to one rehab centre chief

A DRAMATIC drop in the number of addicts sent to Weston for drug and alcohol treatment has been 'bad for business', according to one rehab centre chief.Pauline Bissett, who runs the respected Broadway Lodge clinic in Oldmixon Road, said the fall in the number of addicts referred to the resort for treatment in the last nine months is 'damaging' responsible rehab facilities.Mrs Bissett believes a campaign by Weston MP John Penrose to name and shame councils from around the country which send addicts to the town without telling the authorities is a major factor behind the fall.The uncertainty surrounding Government cash to fund rehab programmes has also played a part in the plummeting number of addicts coming to the town, said Mrs Bissett. There has been a 25 per cent fall in the number of addicts sent to Weston for treatment in the past nine months.Mrs Bissett, who is also the chairman of North Somerset Drug Action Team Providers Forum, believes some councils in other parts of the country have decided to send people hooked on drugs like heroin and crack cocaine elsewhere because of Mr Penrose's campaign.The MP has raised questions in parliament and published the names of local authorities which have flouted rules when referring addicts to Weston.Mrs Bissett claims Mr Penrose's drive to highlight bad practice premises has harmed a number of responsible rehab providers in the town.She said: "On average, the number of addicts coming to the town has dropped by a quarter."The fall is due in part to a delay by the Government's National Treatment Agency in telling councils how much they will have to spend on funding rehab programmes in the year from April."But it is also a direct response to Mr Penrose's campaign. I think there are a number of good referrers which feel it is not worth the effort sending clients to Weston because he has put so much pressure on them."Mr Penrose's campaign is well-intentioned but bad for business."Some of his information is not as accurate as he would like. He made a big thing that many bodies do not tell North Somerset Council when they refer addicts into the area. But because many councils use their own care managers to follow individual cases, there is no need for our council to be involved. These bodies have got nothing to be ashamed of. "Mr Penrose's campaign is doing a lot of damage to businesses which are significant employers in Weston. He should focus his criticisms more on irresponsible clinics and not lump all of us in with the rogue rehabs."A spokesman for Mr Penrose said: "Our concerns were over referrals to unlicensed premises and the failure of referring agencies to notify local authorities of addicts' whereabouts. The campaign didn't target the many excellent treatment centres in Weston."In January, we managed to convince the Government to tighten up on referring bodies and obviously this has made an impact upon some agencies. As the Government enforces new standards, however, I'm confident Weston's treatment centres will thrive once again.

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