On June 26th Steps2Recovery attended an All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) at Portcullis House Westminster.
The APPG was established to evaluate the current state of the Treatment Sector and to go forward with recommendations for change.
The group was attended by a wide range of delegates including MPs, the Criminal Justice System and a representative cross sector of the UK’s treatment providers.
Proceedings were introduced by Noreen Oliver of BAC O’Connor and our Senior Counsellor, Chula Goonewardene, joined Graham Beech of Action on Addiction and John Royle of the Bridge in presenting his perspective on the state of the sector.
Chula talked through his own story of treatment and recovery before going on to outline the Steps model for working with people caught up in the cycle of addiction, crime and prison. He detailed the shortcomings in the current system from the perspective of a frontline worker and spent some time explaining why abstinence should involve total abstinence from all mood altering substances. He used his previous experience of managing teams in statutory services to emphasise how that, while substitute opioid prescribing could provide a useful treatment tool, there has always been an over dependence on it. He talked through the pressures placed on government funded organisations to deliver positive outcomes against a backdrop of ongoing funding cuts.
The APPG heard that It is accepted that the reduction in addiction treatment funding has hit hard since 2013, funding has fallen by 25% with some regions experiencing cuts of more than 40%. These funding decreases are happening at a time when the public health grants are also falling, but at significantly less dramatic rates with the overall public health budget dropping by around 10% across the same period. It was pointed out that the new government Recovery Champion, Dr Edward Day, needed as much help as he could get and that he would benefit from attending the APPG given that it was made up of a representative cross section of the treatment provider community.
The event was attended by a group of people with, often, significantly differing perspectives; however, it was agreed unanimously that improvements have to be sought urgently and that the provision of a coherent and consistent voice in guiding policy is going to be vital to the achieving the goal of positive change.