New group champions women’s right to high-quality services

Eleven of the country’s biggest treatment providers have joined forces to form the Women’s Treatment Group, which will work to improve treatment quality and options for women.

The group, which is chaired by Humankind, has already submitted a letter to the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) outlining the minimum provision for women that should exist in every service. 

Although the last decade has seen an almost 80 per cent increase in the number of women dying a drug-related death, the number of women seeking treatment has remained largely unchanged. The group will look at ways in which services could be adapted to better meet women’s needs, as well as recommending dedicated funding streams for women’s services and the creation of a ‘gender-specific’ evidence base. 

All services should make sure there are women-only spaces and effective joint working with midwifery and local domestic abuse organisations, states the letter to OHID, alongside women-only trauma-informed group work and fully funded childcare provision. A key focus for the group will be working with parliamentarians to ensure the specific needs of women are fully understood, and it has already responded to the government’s Commissioning Quality Standard consultation stating that specialist women’s provision should be included in all service level agreements and that women’s lived experience needs to be fully valued. 

Members of the group include Humankind executive director Karen Tyrell, CGL executive director Nic Adamson, Phoenix Futures CEO Karen Biggs, With You director Siobhan Peters, Trevi CEO Hannah Shead, Turning Point’s national head of service Natalie Travis and WDP CEO Anna Whitton.

Humankind executive director Karen Tyrell
Humankind executive director Karen Tyrell

‘Sadly, many treatment services can be an intimidating place for women and do not address the specific needs and challenges faced by women,’ said Tyrell. ‘Humankind and many of our partners do offer some services specifically for women but there needs to be a nationwide approach to ensure that irrespective of treatment type or geography every woman can get the help that they need. That is why we are calling on the government to allocate a portion of the new strategy funding specifically on women’s services and research into substance use treatment for women so that we can build a greater understanding of the needs of women and the most effective solutions to address them.’ 

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