Alert over schemes to treat drug users

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Government plans to try out payment-by-results schemes to treat drug users will create “enormous practical challenges” and could waste public money, experts warned.

The UK Drug Policy Commission (UKDPC) said the proposed projects for drug users were “the most ambitious and complex” such schemes in Whitehall and “may not deliver the benefits expected”.

Public funds may be wasted and treatment denied to vulnerable people in need of care unless the changes are introduced carefully based on evidence, the independent body said.

Changes might also be brought in before their consequences are fully understood, the needs of each addict will vary and the problems will be compounded by the introduction of other radical health service reforms, budget cuts and the introduction of elected police commissioners, said Alan Maynard, professor of health economics at York University and a UKDPC commissioner