Sheffield GPs’ addiction service worry

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Doctors have expressed concern over changes to Sheffield’s addiction services – warning it will ‘inconvenience’ patients.

Sheffield Council’s drug and alcohol team – DACT – plans to ‘streamline’ its services by offering three schemes for people hooked on alcohol, over-the-counter and prescription drugs, cannabis and heroin.

The council needs to cut the team’s budget by a quarter over three years – and says that, in future, people will be able to access help much more easily.

However, the city’s Local Medical Committee – which represents GPs – has warned the move will affect the 13 practices which currently support DACT patients.

The committee, in its latest update to members, said: “The changes would lead to inconvenience to patients, a loss of income for the practices and destabilisation of practices that relied on this income.”

The committee said the council could give ‘no guarantee’ a new provider would keep the current arrangement with GPs.

It said: “It was noted there had been an extensive consultation and that any new provider would be unwise not to take note of the comments.”

Coun Harry Harpham, council cabinet member for homes and neighbourhoods, said: “The services will continue to promote independence and self-help, support individuals to improve their health and wellbeing and reduce dependence on these services in the long run.”

The new drug schemes are expected to begin in October, with the alcohol service starting next April.