In the 2015 Conservative manifesto the government committed itself to” support people struggling with addiction”. The clinical services which are the bedrock of this support are commissioned by Local Authorities from within the Public Health Grant, accounting for approximately 30% of the allocation. These services are provided by a mixed economy of NHS and Third Sector bodies, often working in partnership.
In contrast to the government’s pledge to protect frontline NHS services, and indeed increase expenditure on NHS commissioned treatment by at least £7 billion over and above inflation, clinical services commissioned by Local Authorities, including drug and alcohol treatment provided by the NHS, are at risk of a 6% in year cash reduction.
Collective Voice is a collaboration of third sector providers of alcohol and drug treatment and recovery services who currently provide about £400 million worth of services to individuals struggling with addiction each year. We believe that it would be entirely inconsistent with the declared intent of the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Health to protect frontline clinical services if the route of commissioning of drug and alcohol treatment was to enable these vital services to be cut when the remainder of health provision is protected.
In our view the Department of Health needs to ensure that its implementation of the £200m reduction to the Public Health Grant offers the same level of protection to the clinical services commissioned by Local Authorities as it has committed to in respect of clinical services commissioned by NHS England and CCGs. To do otherwise would be to allow the bureaucratic accident of commissioning route to subvert the government’s commitment to the electorate.