The drugs and alcohol services budget in Reading will be cut by eight per cent over two years from 2019 and the way its is delivered will change, under proposals discussed by Reading Borough Council’s policy committee on 24 September 2018.
RBC plans to join up with other Berkshire local authorities to fund a single organisation to provide services. At the moment, the organisation IRiS runs prevention and treatment programmes in Reading, while needle exchange, shared prescribing and supervised consumption of drug replacements like methadone, are carried out under separate contracts with others including pharmacies and GPs.
Councils will run an open competition to find an organisation to run the new single contract, from 1 October 2019. The new service will shift the emphasis towards preventing and treating alcohol misuse.
RBC’s lead member for health, councillor Graeme Hoskin, said: “In the face of mounting government cuts to the council’s health budget, now more than ever we need to focus our limited resources in the areas that will have the most impact. The sheer size of alcohol misuse should make it a priority and so this is where we believe we should be targeting our work, whilst continuing to offer support and interventions for drugs misuse.”
The plans will now be further debated at the next meeting of the Reading Health and Wellbeing Board – which Healthwatch Reading sits on – on October 12 2018.