Ten years ago, I led an inquiry into heroin use in Bassetlaw, with the help of local councillors, community leaders and the Worksop Guardian
We were facing a drugs epidemic and all of the problems that come with it – high crime rates, regular deaths from overdoses and a breakdown of family and community bonds.
We knew then that this was an issue that affected all of us in Bassetlaw, and that something had to change.
The outcomes of the inquiry completely transformed the way addiction is treated in Bassetlaw.
Addicts are now seen locally by GPs and trusted health workers, and are no longer forced to travel to Mansfield for treatment.
The results in Bassetlaw speak for themselves. According to a GP report published this summer, in Bassetlaw only 14 per cent of those who have successfully received treatment required further treatment within six months, compared to the rest of the county which has a rate of between 19.7 per cent and 21.4 per cent.
The number of overdose deaths has plummeted and the vast majority of people in treatment are currently in employment.
This means that they are contributing to our economy as taxpayers, and have more stable and productive lives.
It is not just addicts and their families that have benefited from these improvements – crime has fallen by 40 per cent in the last four years and violent crime has fallen by 46 per cent since 2006.
There are improvements to be made, but we have still come a long way in 10 years.
Our local NHS services are now, however, under threat, and I am seriously concerned that we are about to go back a decade.
The GP-led Drug and Alcohol Service will be ‘put out for tender’ later this year, meaning that private companies can bid to take it all over.
This would lead to the dismantling and privatisation of our NHS support.
Local GPs have already come out against the privatisation plans.
In a damning report, they state that proposed changes will lead to increased drug use, an increase in drug-related deaths and an increase in crime.
I also fear that this will just be the start, and that we can expect other NHS services to be privatised over the coming years.
We need to send the clear message that NHS privatisation is unacceptable.
Bassetlaw is different from the rest of the county, and needs the specifically designed services that we now have.
The current proposals suggest that we reduce our services to one location in Bassetlaw, which would be a disastrous cut to our treatment provision.
Instead of cutting our services, the rest of the county should be learning from our success story.
This is an issue that affects us all and I am now calling on constituents in Bassetlaw to help save our GP-led drug and alcohol service.
It is time to stand up and be counted.
I have called a public meeting on 7th September at 11am at The Crossing in Worksop and all are welcome.
We have not been properly consulted on privatisation in Bassetlaw, and we need to make sure that our voices are heard.
To join the campaign, or to find out more, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01909 506200.
We would particularly like to hear from addicts, ex-addicts and their families with accounts of how important the service has been to them.
I look forward to seeing many of you on the day.