Wandsworth’s drug and alcohol treatment services must improve, says council’s own report


The services face a major overhaul following after systematic weaknesses were highlighted


By Jacqueline Fanchini

The £5m-per-year Wandsworth drug and alcohol treatment services face a major overhaul following a critical report from its own council.

The review by the Director of Public Health, Houda Al Sharifi, highlights systematic weaknesses and proposes to address them through a procurement process by the April 1 2015.

One of the key outcomes would be to improve the outlined poor communication and a lack of joint working between the multiple agencies that provide services.

Wandsworth’s Integrated Drugs and Alcohol Service (IDAS) is made up of multiple agencies, such as Blenheim Community Drugs Project and the Sussex Partnership Foundation Trust, with KCA as the lead provider with a contract of over £3.1 million per annum.

Ryan Campbell, Chief Executive of KCA, said: “As treatment for substance misuse is often sensitive and we guarantee patient confidentiality, there needs to be a system of quite complex information and data-sharing in place.”

The changing profile of the drug misusing population is to be addressed, along with the fact that users have to go to different sites for multiple needs.

Mr Campbell said: “This is a challenge as, for instance, it means that specialists and specialist teams have to be spread across a large number of sites. 

“However there is clearly more to do here, particularly in ensuring the service fits around the service user and people do not feel they are having to travel to suit the needs of the service providers.“

Just under 900 problem drug and alcohol users a year are provided with a care planned treatment funded by taxpayers’ money although the report brands performance against key targets as poor.

Although the previous improvement action plan was assessed as of high quality by Public Health England it has nevertheless seen slow improvement in performance against key indicators such as reaching targets for the number of successful completions of treatment.

A spokesperson for Public Health England said: “In Wandsworth, we have been providing focused support to commissioners and providers to support the drive for further outcome improvement.  

“We will continue to provide this support throughout the recommissioning process.’’

The intended outcomes are to drive more focus on recovery as the report has also said services appear to replace addiction with long-term maintenance.

The highest numbers of IDAS’ clients are in the 35-44 age range, and the most commonly abused substances are alcohol and heroin.

Of those that reported injecting behaviour at the beginning of their treatment, 50% said they longer did so at the first treatment review.

“There is a need to provide more support so that people can hopefully complete this journey more quickly, but we would never recommend long-term maintenance as a treatment goal,” said Mr Campbell.

A psychology-led approach is suggested by the report to avoid long-term maintenance while more care will be given to address the mental health issues of those with primary drug and alcohol problems.

For help in Wandsworth go to

Or, meet with peers at the Wandsworth Service User Forum

Photo courtesy of Biggishben, with thanks.

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