New treatment arrangements to tackle Hartlepool's drug and alcohol problems as town has highest regional death rate

A decision on the way Hartlepool’s drug and alcohol treatment services are delivered is due to be made by councillors.

Saturday, 24th August 2019, 10:07 am
A decision on the way Hartlepool’s drug and alcohol treatment services are delivered is due to be made by councillors. Picture: PA

Currently Hartlepool Borough Council provides psychosocial support including assessment, support groups and recovery programmes, while a clinical service of substitute prescribing for those with substance issues is commissioned out to another provider, and needle exchange through pharmacy contracts.

But council officers say people are falling through the cracks under the current system and it is proposed to move to a single integrated service by bringing the two different elements under one leadership structure.

Hartlepool currently has the highest death rates from drug misuse and alcohol related liver disease for the whole of the North East.

And the town has the second and third highest rates nationally.

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The council says drug and alcohol misuse is also a major factor in the rising demand for children’s social care services with high numbers of children becoming subject to child protection plans or looked after because of their parents' substance misuse.

A report that will go to the council's finance and policy committee tomorrow states: "Drug and alcohol dependency in Hartlepool causes significant harm to both individuals and communities.

"Investment in prevention, treatment and recovery interventions helps to reduce this burden.

"There is a need to address the critical challenge in relation to how the service has been commissioned in the past i.e. with two providers and the need to strengthen the integration of the offer."

A new model for a fully integrated service has been identified as the best way forward after a review of the current arrangements.

Council officers' preferred option is to retain the in-house model but with a full service restructure and re-modelling by looking for a commissioned partner to design and build a new clinically integrated model.

A senior clinician/system leader over both services would be appointed.

Officers say it offers the best opportunity to transform the service.