Tackling the pressure on Drug and Alcohol Services in Bedfordshire
Tackling the pressure on Drug and Alcohol Services in Bedfordshire

The intense pressure on resources and the escalating problem of alcohol and drug service related costs to local authorities means that partnership working is essential to maximise access to services and ensure that service provision in high risk areas is both effective and sustainable.

In 2014, a project was initiated by the Chief Executives Forum in Bedfordshire (Central Bedfordshire, Bedford Borough and Luton Borough Council) to bring together key partners and agencies to look at how drug and alcohol reduction services could be improved and commissioned more effectively. Using money taken from their Investment Programme, the East of England LGA commissioned Blue Marble Partners to facilitate this process by using its Solution Centre framework, a fast-track process for developing innovative, collaborative ways of working. The group collated information to assess the possible deliverability of the service across two Drug and Alcohol Partnerships by identifying gaps in current service provision and areas that needed further development

A series of engagement events were held in 2014 to identify the core challenges and barriers to partnership working, such as the sharing of information between departments or agencies, and how these could be tackled going forward.  These events were able to provide further background to the issue, with customer insights from those at the partnership hubs and those within the recovery and treatment teams. The aim of the Solution Centre was to create a single drug and alcohol model that incorporated a single board for the three areas with a joint vision, strategy and plans. The incremental journey set out by Blue Marble acknowledged the difficulty of the process, but recommended that there was more scope for collaborative working across the two Drug and Alcohol partnerships.

The Bedfordshire Chief Executive Forum approved taking forward the proposals from the Solution Centre programme for greater integrated working to increase the joining up of prevention and early help to tackle drug and alcohol abuse. This will see the development of a client group model, multi-discipline teams and greater collaboration across partnerships.

The Solution Centre review and recommendations have formed a firm foundation which the Bedfordshire Chief Executive Forum have built upon. A mapping exercise of the existing early help and preventative activity across Bedford Borough, Luton and Central Bedfordshire was commissioned and further work is underway to focus on developing early help and preventative activity for families and young people with multiple vulnerabilities.

The Chief Executives continue to provide ongoing support and leadership for the implementation of any agreed solutions and activities as they arise.

For further information please contact:
Eddie Gibson, Senior Manager at East of England LGA Eddie.gibson@eelga.gov.uk 01284 758310