Poor people 'must be nearly dying' to get addiction treatment as funding cuts put strain on NHS

PUBLISHED: 07:00 25 August 2017

Broadway Lodge.

Broadway Lodge.

Archant

A charity helping people recover from addiction is having to treat more private patients to cover its costs, as the drying-up of Government funding means some poorer people have to be 'nearly dying' before they get treatment.

Caroline Cole, interim chief executive at Broadway Lodge, based in Totterdown Lane, Weston-super-Mare said the charity is ‘lucky to have survived so far’ as it is being ‘squeezed’ from all sides because there is less money being spent on substance misuse services.

Money for addiction services used to be ring-fenced by the Government and would be split between organisations with expertise in different areas.

But now clinical commissioning groups in each part of the country set how much is set aside for these services.

This means not only is there less money being dished out, but the money often goes to one big organisation while smaller charities like Broadway – which treats people using an abstinence-based programme – often miss out.

Caroline said these large organisations then either contract smaller charities to do a part of the service, or keep funds to build their own programmes.

She said: “If the client does the right things, they can be in recovery for the rest of their lives.

“When we are commissioned, we are being asked to do much more for much less money.”

Cutting community-based and residential addiction services, like Broadway Lodge, can have a knock-on effect on primary health services, passing on increased costs to the NHS.

In North Somerset, there has been a 50 per cent increase in people visiting hospitals where a drug-related mental health disorder is their primary or secondary diagnosis from 2011/12 to 2015/16. Cases of drug poisoning, too, have risen by 32 per cent, although the number of incidents is still low, with 41 in 2015/16.

Broadway is having to look elsewhere for cash – which means using beds for people who can afford to pay rather than those on low incomes.

Caroline said: “Local authority clients, instead of getting the proper length of treatment they should have are getting a shorter block of treatment. It means a lot of people are going round and round the system.

“Most of the time, local authorities cannot afford to send people to abstinence-based treatment. Local authority clients have to be nearly dying to get in here.”

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