Drug and alcohol reduction group re-launch part of plan to tackle issues in Hartlepool

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A re-launched drug and alcohol reduction group is part of plans to address issues with substance abuse in Hartlepool.

Hartlepool Borough Council Health and Wellbeing Board has released a report providing an update on its progress looking at drug and alcohol harm reduction.

The topic is the subject of the ‘deep dive project’ for 2018/19, which will see council and health bosses come together to help people facing the issues.

A council report earlier this year stated Hartlepool has the second highest death rate from drug misuse, and the highest under-75 death rate from alcohol-related liver disease in the North East.

Council and health bosses are now moving from ‘assessing need to addressing need’ to tackle the issue.

As part of the move a re-launched ‘drugs and alcohol harm reduction group’ is being set up which will report to the Safer Hartlepool Partnership.

The group, made up of health bosses, police staff, council staff and education representatives, will normally meet quarterly, but will meet more if the need arises.

A report from Dr Peter Brambley, interim director of public health, laid out the ‘terms of reference and membership’ which states the aims of the group.

It said: “To keep Hartlepool safe with respect to harm from misuse of drugs and alcohol.

“To promote intelligence-sharing and operational networking between the partners, including focussed activity with individuals at highest levels of shared concern.

“To provide feedback on problems and progress to the participating agencies.”

It aims to improve services, modernise work and improve the final outcomes.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in August found between 2015 and 2017, 46 drug poisoning fatalities were registered in Hartlepool, at a rate of 17.4 in every 100,000 people. The national rate was 6.6 per 100,000 people.

Other steps the health board will be taking to address the issues include ordering therapy to begin from the first contact assessment and a stronger emphasis on prevention.

It also aims to provide greater integration with other agencies such as nursing services, adult social care, police, NHS staff and education  bosses.

They also want a single key worker or small team to be identified to each client to promote continuity of care and facilitate a supportive and therapeutic relationship.

A discussion on the progress of the drugs and alcohol harm reduction work will take place at the council Health and Wellbeing Board meeting.

It will take place on Monday, December 10, at the Centre for Independent Living in Havelock Street in Hartlepool from 10am.

Nic Marko, Local Democracy Reporting Service