BARNSLEY will receive enhanced funding - worth more than £670,000 - to tackle the local drug and alcohol treatment ‘crisis’ after it was revealed the town is one of the worst-hit areas in the country.
Through the announcement, made by the government’s Department of Health and Social Care, the town is set to receive a total of £670,722 in its drug strategy allocation, as well as an additional £54,490 to fund inpatient detoxification.
Barnsley is among the first wave of 50 local authorities to receive the new funding due to the highest level of need - based on the local drug death rate, deprivation, opiate and crack cocaine prevalence and crime rates.
Shocking figures released by Public Health England revealed that 51 addicts - already in contact with drug and alcohol treatment services in Barnsley - ‘needlessly died’ over a three-year period.
Observed deaths in drug and alcohol treatment were 45 per cent ‘more than expected’ by the local authority, according to analysis of the figures by addiction treatment experts UK Addiction Treatment Group (UKAT), who have a rehab facility at Linwood House, a 34-bed rehabilitation facility on Wensley Road, New Lodge.
Barnsley’s data shows service bosses expected 35 fatalities from adults aged 18-plus in contact with treatment services between April 2018 and March 2021 - instead, 51 deaths were observed and recorded.
Meanwhile alcohol-related hospital admissions rocketed to record-breaking levels in the town as more than 6,000 residents required hospital treatment in just twelve months.
A total of 6,080 residents required hospital treatment - the fourth year-on-year rise in a row - and 1,000 more people than figures from 2016/17.
The data takes into account Barnsley Hospital’s admissions where either the primary diagnosis or one of the secondary diagnoses is an alcohol-related condition, painting a picture of how impactful alcohol is on determining whether the patient has to actually be admitted into hospital.
Nuno Albuquerque, consultant treatment lead for UKAT, exclusively told the Chronicle: “The extra funding for drug and alcohol treatment services in Barnsley is of course welcomed, but we hope it isn’t all smoke and mirrors.
“This money needs to be spent cleverly and with the addict in mind.
“There’s no point spending money to detoxify people from drugs only to leave them on their own straight after.
“Their body will no longer be addicted, but their minds will be.
“Consistent and immediate therapy and rehabilitation is required to ensure that this extra funding isn’t wasted and most importantly, to give the person in treatment the best chance of a life in recovery.”