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Drugs: Rehabilitation

Question for Department of Health

UIN 107820, tabled on 16 October 2017

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what assessment he has made of the effects of budgetary changes to the funding of drug treatment programmes on mortality rates among heroin and crack cocaine users in England between 2013 and 2017.

Answered on

19 October 2017

No assessment has been made on this specific issue. The Government is investing over £16 billion over the Spending Review period for local authorities (LAs) to spend on public health. LAs are responsible for making decisions on how to spend their local allocation but the public health grant conditions make it clear that they must have regard for the need to improve the take up of, and outcomes from, their drug and alcohol misuse treatment services.

Public Health England (PHE) led an inquiry last year into the rises in drug-related deaths. The report of the expert working group convened by PHE concluded that the reasons behind the increase in drug-related deaths are multiple and complex. However, the recent rise has likely been caused – at least in part – by an increase in the availability of heroin, following a fall in deaths during a period when heroin purity and availability was significantly reduced.

The longer-term upward trend in drug-related deaths is largely caused by an ageing cohort of heroin users, many of whom started to use heroin in the 1980s and 90s, who are now experiencing cumulative physical and mental health conditions that make them more susceptible to overdose.

The inquiry report was published in September 2016 and is available at:

http://www.nta.nhs.uk/uploads/phe-understanding-preventing-drds.pdf

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