RECOVERING addicts are in the frontline of the fight against drug and alcohol abuse in the county under a new £5 million treatment contract.

Herefordshire Council confirmed that the contract has been signed off at cabinet level to be effective from December.

The contract sees national organistion Addaction replacing the substance misuse service delivered by 2gether Trust’s DASH project, which currently provides treatment and support to more than 900 people.

In a statement confirming the contractual award, the council said the service to be provided by Addaction has been designed to expand the recovery options and therapies that clients can receive – including more involvement in putting in putting recovery plans together.

Part of Addaction’s brief is a specific focus on work with recovering users to change attitudes toward the use of drugs and alcohol across all age groups.

Councillor Patricia Morgan, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said the contract represented a “real chance” to support those living with addiction and get them involved in promoting prevention.

“We are striving to change our approach so that we move beyond treating people to helping them recover and regain their lives and integrate back into society. 

"We will be working very closely with DASH to make sure the service is transferred as smoothly as possible,” she said.

The council had little alternative to change as current contracts have already been extended - with the risk of procurement challenge should further extension be considered.

Addiction - especially alcohol dependency - is acknowledged as a significant issue for the county.

But council papers show the county’s performance against the public health outcomes framework -  in particular the successful completion of treatment and non representation - has been static or falling against that of comparable local authority areas and the West Midlands region as a whole.

Currently, the county currently ranks 271st out of 326 local authorities for the number of young people accessing hospital services for alcohol-related issues.

A need to streamline resources so that more funding is targeted at the delivery of service, and away from covering overheads, was key to the council  reaching the decision to tender.

This was matched to a need to provide more localised services.

The process was subject to a soft market testing exercise in 2014 which resulted  in the decision to go to open tender in February this year.

Bids were received for evaluation in April.

Based on 2015/16 spend, the total annual amount of funding allocated to the project is £1,774,000 a year.

The contract runs for three years with the option to extend for two further years on an annual basis - subject to availability of funding and the performance of the provider.

Funding is available from the Public Health grant and from a variety of other sources - including the Police and Crime Commissioner - which are subject to annual reviews based on performance, government spending review and local priorities.