DDN May 2017

‘Who can offer the political leadership the sector needs?’

Hogwash and purdah – it’s election season again and where is the long-awaited drug strategy? The pages of this issue will tell you that we need change, but unlike many of the party political broadcasts they are specific about what’s wrong and what must change.

From funding to commissioning to ‘recovery outcomes’ there is a sense that we are getting it wrong – and that politicians are refusing to listen. The evidence from within the sector comes down to one key question that is hard to ignore: why are politicians happy to condone a treatment system that costs so much but, despite the best efforts of those working in it, delivers so little? Whichever way you look at it, drug deaths are at their highest since records began and the toll of death and illness related to alcohol is just massive.

Our contributors are united in their condemnation of constant retendering, and the plea ‘enough!’ has been heard many times recently on these pages. The costly process has driven organisations out of business, treatment workers out of the sector, and cost how many lives? In the two years that it takes for a new provider to take over, clients are disconnected, lost – and possibly dead.

Over the past few years we have lost the post of ‘drugs minister’ – the named person who used to interact with the sector and shape policy from its expertise. A little bit of policy from this department and a little from that is doing nothing to bring the dynamism, accountability and results that this sector so desperately needs. Will this election offer a lifeline from any side?

Claire Brown, editor

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