Lancashire County Council axes drink and drugs rehab places

County Hall
Image caption The council is cutting its public health budget by £4.1m

Fewer people in Lancashire will have access to alcohol and drugs rehabilitation because of funding pressures, the county council said.

The local authority approved the move as part of a package to cut £4.1m from the public health budget.

Other measures include the scrapping of healthy weight courses, and the removal of universal access to quit smoking courses and therapy.

The council now hopes to pool its public health budget with the NHS.

Conservative councillor Shaun Turner, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: "You cannot measure a service by the money you pour into it."

But the deputy leader of the Labour opposition group, John Fillis, warned that the worth of the services under discussion went "beyond their cash value".

Fewer than 100 places a year are expected to be available in rehab centres in future, compared with the 316 that have been offered until now.

The saving will be made by changing the "thresholds" at which people become eligible for rehabilitation schemes, many of which are currently residential.

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Image caption The council is cutting £670k from its £15.5m substance misuse (drug and alcohol) services

The authority said it would promote the use of community-based services offered by voluntary organisations.

A report by council officers acknowledged that the new policy was likely to make it more difficult for the NHS in the county to respond to the impact that drug and alcohol misuse currently has on mental health and Accident and Emergency services.

Mr Turner said the need to make financial savings could "kickstart" long-discussed plans for closer co-operation between the authority and the NHS.

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