William Eichler 21 June 2022

Staff shortages undermining drug treatment, study reveals

Staff shortages undermining drug treatment, study reveals  image
Image: Zerbor/Shutterstock.com.

A loss of skilled professionals and the fragmentation of services has proven a major barrier to tackling drug addiction, new research has found.

In January 2021, the Government granted £80m of one-year funding to improve treatments for drug users, £55m of which was set aside to support local authorities in improving treatment for opiate users.

Investigating the impact of this funding, researchers at the University of York found that the one-year funding period severely limited the ability for commissioners and managers to plan ahead and train new staff to revitalise this area of care after a decade of cuts.

The researchers learnt that ‘non-existent staff and fragmented clinical services’ meant the ability to take a joined up approach to criminal justice, drugs treatment, housing, employment and social care, was lost and health professionals were therefore unable to develop effective rehabilitation treatment programmes.

The research also found that difficulties in recruiting staff with any relevant experience within a short time-frame resulted in local authorities competing in the same limited recruitment pool, or seconding staff from other local services, leaving staffing gaps elsewhere.

The study also found that the societal costs of drug misuse are £20bn each year, but only £650m was spent on drug treatment between 2020 and 2021.

Dr Geoff Page, from the University of York’s Department of Social Policy and Social Work, said: ‘The last decade has really seen all of the features that make drug treatment an appealing workplace disappear. The latest investment to be spent in a one-year cycle, meant that jobs to tempt people back into this area had to be fixed at one-year contracts, which for many is not an attractive offer.

‘It is an area of work that over the years has been deskilled and deprofessionalised, adding to the problem of how you recruit people that have relevant experience and who can handle complex work and carry the responsibility of the health of some of the most vulnerable people in their community.’

SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Independent Living Assessor

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council
£26,544 - £30,618
We support people’s independence and wellbeing, and work hard to enable them to live in the community with dignity, choice and control. Kensington and Chelsea, London (Greater)
Recuriter: The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council

Performance and Reward Advisor

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council
£50,790 - £58,338
In Kensington and Chelsea, we have an ambitious Council Plan which sets out our priorities for the future. Kensington and Chelsea, London (Greater)
Recuriter: The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council

Senior Business Change Officer

South Derbyshire District Council
£28,226 - £30,984
A fantastic opportunity to join an ambitious and transforming Council. Swadlincote, Derbyshire
Recuriter: South Derbyshire District Council

Head of Environment & Operations

Falkirk Council
£89,000
Can you bring experience, transformational leadership and commitment to our new Place Services? Falkirk (County)
Recuriter: Falkirk Council

Climate Change Project Officer

Uttlesford District Council
£32,798 - £35,336
A rare and exciting opportunity has arisen to play a key role in tackling the Climate Emergency. Saffron Walden, Essex
Recuriter: Uttlesford District Council

Partner Content

Circular highways is a necessity not an aspiration – and it’s within our grasp

Shell is helping power the journey towards a circular paving industry with Shell Bitumen LT R, a new product for roads that uses plastics destined for landfill as part of the additives to make the bitumen.

Support from Effective Energy Group for Local Authorities to Deliver £430m Sustainable Warmth Funded Energy Efficiency Projects

Effective Energy Group is now offering its support to the 40 Local Authorities who have received a share of the £430m to deliver their projects on the ground by surveying properties and installing measures.

Pay.UK – the next step in Bacs’ evolution

Dougie Belmore explains how one of the main interfaces between you and Bacs is about to change.