Written answers

Tuesday, 15 February 2022

Photo of Seán CroweSeán Crowe (Dublin South West, Sinn Fein)
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929. To ask the Minister for Health if a recent examination has been undertaken of the drug and alcohol task forces’ catchment areas with a view to the changing needs for resources and funding; if so, when it was undertaken; and the details of same. [8457/22]

Photo of Frank FeighanFrank Feighan (Sligo-Leitrim, Fine Gael)
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Drug and alcohol task forces have a key role in coordinating inter-agency action and supporting evidence-informed approaches to substance use. The network of 24 task forces receives €29 million in annual funding from the Department of Health and the HSE. It is recognised that there significant inequities in the allocation of this funding between task forces due to their historical boundaries.

I recently announced a €2 million community services enhancement fund to enhance community-based drug and alcohol services. The aim of the fund is to enhance access to and delivery of drug and alcohol services in the community, which is a strategic priority for the national drugs strategy 2021-2025.

I have allocated between €200,000 and €240,000 per annum to the nine community healthcare organisations (CHOs), who will commission community-based drug and alcohol services based on an assessment of population needs in each CHO.

- CHOs 2, 3, 5 & 6 will each receive €200,000

- CHOs 1, 4, 7, 8 & 9 will each receive €240,000

- CHO 1 & 8 will ring-fence €80,000 from their respective allocations for the northeast region (€160,000 in total), to support the implementation of the Drogheda report.

The funding will be allocated on three-year cycle, with ongoing monitoring and evaluation, to ensure that services are effective in addressing the needs of people who use drugs and alcohol.

Twenty-five percent of the funding allocations is ring-fenced to increase access to and the provision of drug and alcohol services for women, ethnic minorities and the LGBTI+ community.

By profiling the drug and alcohol needs of the population across the CHO, not just in pre-defined geographical areas, it will enable the development of new services and the measurement of their impact over time. Already, we are seeing new drug & alcohol needs emerge, whether in the night-time economy, among young people, in disadvantaged communities or polydrug use.

The development of population-based resource allocation will ensure funding is allocated on an equitable and rational basis in accordance with health and social needs. It also supports the emphasis on enhanced community care in the Sláintecare reform programme, that shifts care into the community and closer to people’s homes. By integrating drug and alcohol services as part of primary care, the diverse health needs of people who use drugs can be met and the stigma of drug and alcohol use can be reduced. This is practical step in strengthening the health-led response to drug and alcohol use.

I believe that the national network of 24 drug and alcohol task forces have a central role to play in identifying population needs and commissioning new services under the new community services enhancement fund. Task forces are based on an inter-agency partnership which is at the heart of the national drugs strategy and are well placed to support evidence-based interventions. I also want to involve people with lived experience of drug use in the design and delivery of the new services.


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