Richmond Council slashes funds for detoxing drug addicts by 66 per cent since gaining control of health budget

Richmond Council has slashed its funds for detoxing drug addicts by 66 per cent in the past four years.

The data, obtained through a Freedom of Information Request by addiction treatment firm UKAT, showed that out of the 39 councils that replied, Richmond Council was the fourth lowest spender on addiction treatment.

Up until 2012, the budget for drug and alcohol treatment was ringfenced by the Government and each council had a set pot of money to spend on local addicts through various treatments.

However, when the Public Health Grant was introduced in 2013, each council was given one pot for all health services, giving councils the responsibility to distribute the money where they saw fit.

A spokesman for Richmond Council said: “Richmond and Wandsworth commissioned a new inpatient detoxification service from April 2016 which more closely reflects our actual need for this service, in which the majority of treatment is most effectively provided in community settings.”

Eytan Alexander, founder of UKAT, warned that slashing the fund could result in addicts going “cold turkey”.

He said: “Nobody with a serious dependency on drugs or alcohol should ever be left to go ‘cold turkey’ at home.

“The dangers of this must surely outweigh the desire to save money.

“Recovery is a journey—there are no shortcuts.”

He added: “Slashing budgets threatens not only the health but the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in society.

“It’s a false economy as the burden is simple transferred onto an already stretched NHS which is facing a winter crisis.”

Have you or do you know anyone who has been affected by these cuts? Contact: grainne.cuffe@newsquest.co.uk

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