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Alcohol & Other Drugs, News & Media

Cranstoun Response to the Planned Closure of UK’s First Diamorphine Assisted Treatment Centre, in Spite of Major Successes

Posted on: 29 September, 2022

Cranstoun is extremely disappointed that funding has stopped for the first Diamorphine Assisted Treatment (DAT) Centre in the UK, run by Foundations. The closure was announced yesterday, after funding was not extended beyond the planned period.

This is despite the scheme yielding excellent results, with a full evaluation from Teeside University finding that participants in the scheme had previously been committing crime for 19 years on average, with an accumulative 52 years in prison. The report estimates this cost the Ministry of Justice over £4.3 million. The cost of DAT however, is estimated to be around £16.50 a day per person[1].

We would like to express our deepest sympathies with Danny Ahmed – who is also a Clinical Director at Cranstoun – his colleagues at Foundations and most importantly, the people using the service who will be supported to alternative forms of treatment. This is concerning given the exemplary results from those partaking in the scheme, namely the positive impact on physical and mental well-being. Details of the evaluation can be found below this statement.

DAT is based on a mutual trust and the stability of being able to receive medicine. If closed, some people dependent on DAT might be reluctant to re-join schemes in the future for fear of losing a consistent supply at relatively short notice – through no fault of their own. With attendance to all meetings at 98%, we are concerned for the welfare of those leaving the scheme, and the psychological impact this may have on people with complex needs.

Given the government is attempting to reduce the use of illicit drugs, the size of the market and tackle organised crime, this is a counter-intuitive step that will only benefit the illicit trade. As well as wellbeing, DAT’s evaluation detailed that overall substance use was down by 48%. DAT delivers on many of the aims of the recent 10-year drug strategy, so there is bemusement from colleagues that this decision has been made.

With drug deaths in the North East of England among the highest in the UK, we deeply worry for the people who have lost this scheme, and the missed opportunity to keep it operating. We also harbour concerns on the longer term impact, and the number of lives that this could cost. A major benefit of DAT was the consistent engagement with a medical professional for people using the service.

It is a grave mistake to withdraw DAT’s funding, especially ahead of a winter of uncertainty and rising costs. With just weeks to run until the scheme will close, we know that Foundations will support individuals exceptionally well to other forms of treatment, but it is not helpful to destabilise patients who are benefiting from successful treatment.

We firmly believe that Diamorphine Assisted Treatment is a world class innovation – proven globally – and today’s news is a major setback for harm reduction in this country. As campaigners push for world class treatment to tackle the drugs crisis, we are deeply concerned about the impact that this will have. There is no salient reason to withdraw this hugely successful scheme, and this is a loss for the people of Middlesborough.

This announcement demonstrates the precarious nature of innovative bold policy making, and we encourage those behind the move to reconsider. Evidence, not ideology must dictate policy but, in this instance, this has sadly not been the case.

We would like to thank Foundations for their immense role in reducing harm on the streets of Middlesbrough and delivering such a world-beating initiative. Cranstoun remain hopeful that the funding will be found to reverse this decision, and endeavour to help however we can.

Meg Jones, Director of New Business and Services at Cranstoun, said: “Diamorphine Assisted Treatment is an evidence-based world class intervention that operates in countries around the world. It supports people who have failed to benefit from other treatment options, reduces cost and demand on local services and benefits society as a whole. For the criminal justice system, DAT is one of the most effective ‘disrupt’ tactics for policing with 5-10% of people consuming up to 60% of the total illicit market.

I have personally visited Middlesbrough and heard first-hand the difference this service has made to the individuals on the programme and also to their families and friends. Lives rebuilt, parents now being a part of their children’s lives and sustainable future ahead.

Policy in this country has to be led by evidence and this programme has time and time again demonstrated real success in supporting people out of the revolving door of crime, creating savings to the taxpayers and a reduction in demand for local services. I hope that funding can be reconsidered to save this pivotal service. We are in the grip of a cost-of-living crisis and poverty loves drugs and alcohol. We must be bold and brave in working in new ways to prevent addiction”

— ENDS —

Key findings from the Teeside evaluation can be read in full here.

References:

[1] [1] Poulter, Hannah (PI)Moore, Helen (PI)Crow, Robert (RA). (2021). Evaluation of the Middlesbrough Heroin Assisted Treatment Pilot.  Teeside: Teeside University.

[1] Costs per place and costs per prisoner by individual prison HM Prison & Probation Service Annual Report and Accounts 2017-18 Management Information Addendum Ministry of Justice Information Release Published 25 October 2018

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