"2020 has been year unlike any other where many well-laid plans came unstuck due to the impact of Covid-19. However, what we saw across the addictions sector in 2020, both in NHS and third sector provider, was a rapid response to a very difficult situation which demanded flexibility and ingenuity. It also meant that as a sector we communicated and shared knowledge and expertise in a manner only a national emergency could create.
This built upon the relationships we already have with the Home Office, Department of Health and Social Care, and Public Health England who we will continue to work with as the future of its functions start to become clearer.
As we move into 2021 focusing on what is in the best interest of those who use our services should continue to be our mantra as an addictions sector; this includes advocating for and involving those who use addiction services and ensuring we properly reflect on what we don’t do so well as a treatment sector and resolving this.
In part, funding is central to this and after the disappointment of the recent spending review NHS APA will be increasing its efforts to support system change alongside campaigning for the need for longer-term sustained funding, particularly of drug and alcohol treatment services. Undoubtedly momentum from the Dame Carol Black Review will assist this, and we hope the planned addictions strategy will further help make the case for more integrated commissioning of addiction services, increased funding and challenging the stigma associated with addiction, which is often the foundation of inequalities.
The work as an Alliance with Collective Voice where Alliance members have been actively sharing information, resources, and innovations with the sector during Covid-19 will continue.
Despite many plans being derailed by Covid-19 we have made some positive steps forward.
We extended our purpose to cover all addictions and to the whole of the UK with the announcement of our new brand as the NHS addiction Provider Alliance.
We ran our first free online conference where a range of fantastic speakers spoke about varying impact of Covid-19 on addiction services.
We welcomed two new members to the Alliance, Rotherham, Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust and Merseycare NHS Foundation Trust, taking our membership to 16 organisations covering England.
We also took a significant role in supporting the Dame Carol Black Review which we will continue to do so in 2021 as well as taking an active part in contributing to the review of the Gambling Act next year.
The Hep C U Later Programme, our initiative with Gilead and NHS England, continues to go from strength to strength with the Hep C U Later social media campaign creating significant reach on World Hepatitis Day, reaching 700,000 impressions on Twitter.
As the NHS APA, our reach continues to grow across our social media platforms, website, and newsletter.
We also continued our campaign highlighting the risk to the last few NHS In Patient Detox Units. Despite great efforts these still are very much at risk with the Acer Unit in Bristol being very near to closure; we must reverse this trend as once this capacity is lost it will be hard to rebuild and, as we can see from the initial increase in alcohol referrals coming through to services, this is a resource that is desperately needed.
The vast majority of Alliance work is done by members volunteering their support and time, with great support from Candie Lincoln in a Project Support role and our partner organisation Bright Sparks. Without their support this year much of what we managed to achieve would not be possible.
To those of you who follow NHS APA, many thanks your support is appreciated.
We still have much work to do in 2021 to support positive outcomes for those individuals,
families and communities affected by addiction. So, we will rest up over the festive period ready for 2021, a year that may shape the future for addictions services for many years to come.
As a collaboration of NHS organisations, we stand ready to create positive change".