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Spending Review 2020 prioritises those impacted by COVID-19

Following the release of the Government's one-year Spending Review, the NHS APA supports the outline plans for investment in public health, the NHS, and the wider health care services to primarily support those most affected by COVID-19. Nevertheless, while emergency spending is critical now it is important that longer-term priorities remain in sight.


Firstly, we applaud the pay rises for over one million NHS workers and the lowest paid despite the challenging economic context. As an alliance we believe this is a step in the right direction, however it is essential that it is appropriately funded as this will inevitably put more cost pressures on already reduced budgets. We would also like to see the pay increase expanded to benefit our colleagues in all community addictions services for the vital roles they play.

As the overall public health grant remains almost static, there is undoubtedly a growing concern in the addictions sector that we are heading for further stresses on services; particularly in light of the highest recorded rates of drug-related deaths and the growing evidence of harmful drinking, and gambling during the last 12 months.

If not appropriately funded, services will remain stretched as the worrying size and complexity of addictions continues to escalate. These concerns were raised long before the pandemic. Now, coupled with year on year funding cuts, the sustained future of services such as NHS Inpatient Detox Units remains precarious.


If not appropriately funded, services will remain stretched as the worrying size and complexity of addictions continues to escalate.


We wholeheartedly welcome the £151 million of new funding for people sleeping rough or at risk of homelessness due to COVID-19 and a definitive link with substance misuse treatment being mentioned by the government. The pandemic has helped to identify the very real and complex needs of this marginalised population. We are pleased to see commitment in this area, are keen to understand how an integrated system would work, and stand ready to work with commissioners and the government to guide and achieve this.

The Spending Review has announced a number of opportunities for NHS services to support a more integrated system in some key pilots as outline in the Shared Outcomes Fund: namely a £28 million pilot to explore a whole-system approach to drug enforcement and treatment, and a £46 million pilot for local multi-agency partnerships to improve the lives of adults facing multiple disadvantages.

As an alliance of NHS providers we will continue to lobby for a more strategic focus on addiction treatment as part of a longer three-year spending review, we hope this will be based on evidence soon to be announced as part of the second phase of the Dame Carol Black review in the new year.



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