Agencies to join forces in war on drug and alcohol addiction

By Lunar Loops · Jun 24, 2006 ·
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    Agencies to join forces in war on drug and alcohol addiction


    SUPPORT for people seeking help with drug and alcohol problems in Edinburgh is set to be transformed with a new approach to assessing what help they need.
    Around 3000 people across the Capital are currently receiving treatment for problems ranging from heroin addiction to alcoholism but often these people are seeing a number of different agencies without all the groups involved being aware of this.

    Action on Alcohol and Drugs in Edinburgh, the group responsible for drug and alcohol referrals, has devised a new system for sharing information that it is hoped will reduce duplication and improve communication between the city's support agencies. The scheme, known as "single shared assessment", will see agencies use the same system for recording information about clients and then share this with each other.
    A trial run of the project will start next week in North Edinburgh and if successful is expected to be rolled out across the city.
    City drugs chief Tom Wood today said single shared assessment will cut costs and reduce the chance of clients visiting several agencies for treatment without the knowledge of each agency.
    Scottish Executive figures released in April showed 109 drug and alcohol users in the Capital waited more than 52 weeks from referral to assessment at the end of last year - longer than anywhere else in Scotland apart from Aberdeen.
    It is hoped the new project will speed up how long it takes to get addicts' needs assessed and improve the support available to those seeking help.
    "This piece of work is long overdue," said Mr Wood, chairman of Action on Alcohol and Drugs in Edinburgh.
    "If this can make services for those with a drug or alcohol problem more effective and reduce wasting precious time and resources, then it is yet another positive step in making a crucial difference to not only those who have a substance misuse problem, but also the staff who are working with them in trying to overcome their drug dependency.
    "The results of our review are starting to bed in and we are actively addressing issues such as discarded needles and support for drug-addicted mothers."
    Information will initially be kept on paper and shared at inter-agency meetings but it is hoped the scheme will eventually go online.
    Glen Liddle, of support group Vocal, an umbrella organisation for care groups, said: "I think anything that gets agencies together and sharing information has got to be a good thing.
    "There is something like 30 agencies in Edinburgh for drug and alcohol support so you can see where the need for greater closer working lies.
    "It will cut out the duplication and will also highlight when a person is just going round the system without actually getting the support they require.
    "We see this from time to time and this new approach should speed up the process of people actually getting the help they need."
    Fiona Watson, clinical lead in substance misuse at NHS Lothian and chairwoman of the group responsible for the shared assessment, said: "This is a much-needed development both in improving quality of care for clients and in demonstrating outcome measures. We look forward to the electronic rollout towards the end of the year."

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