DDN December 2017

‘Disinvestment in harm reduction is
deeply damaging’

As 2017 draws to a close we look back at a year of diminishing budgets and record drug-related deaths. While local authorities get to grips with cutting £85m from public health spending, the ACMD warned that slashing drug treatment budgets is a ‘catalyst for disaster’. Throughout the year we have heard many evidence-based arguments for harm reduction initiatives. The call for supervised injection facilities is gathering momentum again, and there is continued progress on naloxone roll-out. But what about those working in harm reduction who feel they are fighting a losing battle?

Disinvestment in harm reduction in the UK is deeply damaging. Not only are we dismissing the rights of people in desperate need of services – we are driving away those who work with passion in the most difficult environments. The result is a deskilling of this vital workforce, as we patch up services and miss out on a huge (and cost effective) opportunity to help clients engage with healthcare.

We opened a debate about commissioning in our last issue, following the ACMD’s call for longer retendering cycles. This month we look at the effect of this on shared care – a disturbing picture of GPs stretched to breaking point trying to make sure patients don’t drop out of treatment. So it’s not been an easy year, but there are clear goals to fight for. We have an amazing bank of evidence in this field – let’s make sure it reaches those who need to hear it.

Have a peaceful festive season and stay in touch with us as we gear up for a vigorous new year. We’ll be back in print on 5 February.

Claire Browneditor

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