Submitted by Bradford Drugs and Alcohol
The national strategy in its current form is
a clear and positive framework for the Government to state its
aim in tackling drug misuse. Bradford Drugs and Alcohol Action
Team does not wish to comment on the strategy itself, but has
some comments on current problems in pursuing its implementation
at a local level.
There is a need to rethink and clarify the role
of DATs as the vehicle for delivering the National Strategy at
a local level, particularly in terms of their legal status, and
the infrastructure support needed to cope with the workload.
In the light of the modernising local government
agenda it is important that there is clarity in the DATs' links
to strategic bodies such as Local Strategic Partnerships.
The shape of the modernised health service will
impact on planning and commissioning processes across DAT areas,
for example the abolition of Health Authorities as a key local
planning structure and the development of Primary Care Trusts
as commissioning bodies.
Social Services departments are the subjects
of change, with the rise in joint care trusts. Such moves will
impact on their role as commissioners and key funders for community
Drugs and Alcohol, since 1993 has been part
of the Community Care processes, featuring in local Community
Care Plans. These plans have increasingly become inappropriate
in the planning of substance misuse services given the importance
attached to DAT reports/plans, treatment plans HIMPs and Young
Much of the strategy has close links with the
misuse of alcohol and its impact on society. The delay in publishing
the National Alcohol Strategy and the targeting of new resources
to drug only interventions makes it difficult to develop services
covering both areas of work. It is crucial that there is a clear
strategy integrated with drug misuse as soon as possible.
The role of the NTA could be broadened to take
account of alcohol treatment, with the DATs' role nationally also
being expanded to take on alcohol. Such moves may assist in the
development of an alcohol strategy but will remove "planning
blight" in some districts who may still be waiting for a
Targets and Baselines
Many of the targets in the original strategy
were formulated without reference to baselines, which did not
exist. Information from agencies required through the DAT Template
does not appear to necessarily be coherent with information required
in other arenas. It is crucial that these targets and information
requirements are reviewed and if necessary replaced in the light
of more recent evidence based research and political and social
developments. Such targets must be measurable and relate to other
local and national strategies, and should be formulated in consultation
with local DATs, commissioning bodies and other interested parties.
The new pooled budgets for treatment services
are a positive step and have enabled DATs to plan treatment services
according to local need in a coherent manner. The evolution of
the further budgets with a broad brief for service development
is also positive, eg Young People's Budgets, Communities Against
There are still particular initiatives, which
come very suddenly, with extremely short timescales for very specific
areas, eg Positive Futures, Progress2work. It is frequently difficult
to integrate them into overall planning processes, and they may
cut across areas of work already in progress.
The ability of DATs to undertake long-term planning
related both to the National Strategy and local need does require
some stability of funding and some flexibility in its use. Further
work needs to be done to make the best use of existing base budgets,
bringing them in the pooled budget planning process.