Urgent action is needed to increase the number of nurses and other key health professionals working on addiction teams to ensure people with addictions can receive better service, a new report warned.
A independent review on illegal drug use in England stressed that the sufficient capacity of these services and the quality of treatment offered depended on a “suitably trained workforce”.
“The government is faced with an inevitable choice: invest to tackle the problem or continue to pay for the consequences”
But he said in recent years, drug addiction teams have “deteriorated dramatically in quantity, quality and morale” and are faced with “excessive workload, reduced training and lack of clinical supervision.”
There are now around 300,000 opioid and crack users in England, and around one million people use cocaine each year.
Meanwhile, the number of drug abuse poisoning deaths is at an all-time high, having increased by almost 80% since 2012.
The new report from Professor Dame Carol Black, who advises ministries on health, work and welfare, warned that “we cannot expect a reduction in demand” without taking steps to invest in them. treatment and recovery services, including in the workforce.
As part of more than 30 recommendations to government, the review urged the Department of Health and Social Affairs to call on Health Education England to create a workforce strategy against child abuse. substances by the end of the year.
He proposed that the overall strategy seek to increase the number of professionally trained drug treatment workers, such as nurses, doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers.
This is because services were “increasingly dependent on drug workers who often have minimal or no professional qualifications,” the report notes.
The government has also been urged to fund HEE to cover the costs of training the appropriate workforce required.
Responsibility for commissioning drug addiction services was transferred from the NHS to local authorities under the Health and Welfare Act 2012.
“Tackling this problem requires close collaboration within government and the new specialized unit will help us to achieve it”
While local authorities were “well placed” to do so, the review warned that the move presented “a number of challenges”, especially with regard to staff.
“Job security and access to professional development are more readily available in NHS mental health services, so they are more attractive to many healthcare workers,” the report said.
In addition, he warned that the disruption caused by the “frequent re-commissioning” of drug treatment services made it difficult to recruit health professionals and that “many” nurses, psychiatrists and psychologists had left as a result.
Responding to the report, Gill Campbell, head of nursing at the social enterprise Turning Point, welcomed the recommendation “for a greater professionalization of the workforce.”
She reiterated that “the majority of nurses working in the drug addiction field are employed by third sector providers and do not have access to a personal training budget”, noting that this was “something that needs to change. urgently “.
Ms Campbell added that the nurses would “instrumental “in realizing Dame Carol’s vision for more”sensitive services for people with complex needs ”.
Further recommendations from the review by Dame Carol, who is also president of the British Library and chair of the Center for Aging Better, encouraged ministries to work together to improve treatment, housing support and how drug addicts are treated in the criminal justice system. system.
Importantly, its report also called for drug addiction to be recognized as a “chronic health condition”, which required long-term follow-up from health professionals.
Commenting on the report, Dame Carol said: “The government faces an inevitable choice: invest to tackle the problem or continue to pay for the consequences.
“A whole system approach is needed, and this part of my review offers concrete proposals, deliverable in this parliament, to achieve this. “
The report, released Thursday, came as the second phase of a broader review of drug abuse in England.
As a result of the report, the government set up a new joint drug control unit, bringing together several government departments, including the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Housing, of Communities and Local Governments, the Department of Work and Pensions, the Department of Education and the Department of Justice, to help fight drug abuse across the country.
Health and Social Affairs Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Tackling this problem requires strong collaboration within government and the new Joint Specialized Drug Enforcement Unit will help us do just that. “
He added that the government “will take a close look at these recommendations and soon release an initial response on urgent measures we can take to reverse the trend of drug-related deaths and enable more people to access health services. best quality “.