HC Deb 09 February 1984 vol 53 cc787-8W
Mr. Knox

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what action is being taken in Wales in the light of the report on treatment and rehabilitation made by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. Wyn Roberts

Like the Department of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services, the Welsh Office conducted a widespread consultation on the report. The responses largely supported the recommendations of the advisory council. They acknowledged in particular the need for better co-ordination of services so that local service providers work closely together to respond appropriately to local needs.

I accept the recommendation that the prime responsibility for the provision and development of services for drug misusers should remain at local level. The Welsh Office will issue a circular to district health authorities as soon as possible, which will ask them to review the incidence of drug misuse in their areas in consultation with local authorities, voluntary bodies and other key interests and to report in the coming cycle of annual reviews of district health authorities on the scale of their problem and their plans to tackle them, with reference to the advisory council's recommendations.

Remedying the present absence of reliable data on the precise extent and characteristics of the problem of drug misuse in Wales is central to ensuring a proper response to the problem. In the light of the data collected by district health authorities and discussion in the annual reviews we shall consider whether there is a need to establish a formal drug problem team in Wales and whether there is a case for any regional services for drug misusers.

In issuing the report for consultation, it was indicated that we would consider in the light of the responses and taking into account other competing demands, whether schemes for improving services for people with drug problems might be given some assistance from Welsh Office fund. We have concluded that there is a case for Welsh Office funding where, in the opinion of local service providers, the problem locally is such as to deserve a degree of special priority. We propose, therefore, to extend the purposes for which bids may be submitted in future years for the Welsh Office psychiatric reserve to include schemes involving care for drug misusers.

In deciding the level of resources for this central reserve we shall, of course, have regard to this additional factor, in the light of available total resources and competing demands for these. Joint finance will continue to be available for suitable schemes providing care for drug misusers.

In his statement today my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services, describes the action he is taking in England on the advisory council's report. We believe, like him, that training initiatives are more responsive and appropriate if taken at the local level, but we shall help where we can to spread good practice. We also look forward to seeing the responses of professional bodies to the approach from my right hon. Friend, which will ask them what action they are taking on the advisory council's recommendations on training which concern them.

Similarly, we look forward to the report of the working group of medical practitioners, which my right hon. Friend is appointing to prepare guidelines on good clinical practice in the treatment of drug misusers and to consider the advisory council report's recommendations for the extension of licensing restrictions to include all the opioid drugs.