SMMGP - Substance Misuse Management Good Practice

Substance Misuse Management Good Practice

Supporting good practice in drug and alcohol treatment

SMMGP News Archives - 2011

Please note that the older the news item the more likely it is that details such as contact names and addresses, or links to 3rd party web sites, may have changed.

Top of Page
Divider

Essay Competition for Undergrad Medical Students & Postgrad Registrars

(Posted 2 December 2011)
SMMGP is pleased to announce it's 2012 Essay Competition for Undergraduate Medical Students and Postgraduate Registrars

Competition details

Undergraduate Medical Students and Postgraduate Registrars are invited to write an essay of no more than 1,200 words on one of the following 2 topics:

  1. Addiction to drugs is a brain disease and the real hope for future treatment lies only in medicine. Discuss.

  2. Discuss your knowledge and experience of primary care drug and alcohol treatment; and reflect on what can be improved.

Please e-mail your submission to smmgp.cic@gmail.com by 5pm on Wednesday 29th February 2012.

Please state clearly which topic you are discussing, include your name, e-mail address and contact telephone number.

Prizes

In addition to the prizes listed below, all entrants will automatically become members of SMMGP and receive our monthly clinical and policy updates, a copy of our popular clinical publication Network and be eligible for discounted delegate fees at the SMMGP annual primary care development conference. The winning entry will be published in a future edition of Network.

1st prize:
£200.00 in book vouchers and 1 free place at the RCGP primary care conference in Cardiff on 11 May 2012*.

2nd prize:
£100.00 in book vouchers and 1 free place at an SMMGP training event during 2012 or our next primary care development conference to be held during October 2012*.

For more information, please see the Essay Competition page.

*Please note that prizes do not include travel and/or accommodation.

Top of Page
Divider

November-December SMMGP Policy Update Now Online

(Posted 29 November 2011)
The November-December 2011 Policy Clinical Update is now available in the SMMGP Clinical & Policy Updates section in both online and downloadable versions.

If you would like to receive these Updates via e-mail as soon as they are released, please join the SMMGP. Membership is completely free, you can join instantly online, and there are lots of benefits - see the Free SMMGP Membership Application page for more details.

Top of Page
Divider

Network #33 Now Online - Liver Special Edition

(Posted 25 November 2011)
Issue 33 - Liver Special Edition of "Network", the SMMGP Newsletter, is now available to read online, download in Adobe Acrobat PDF format, or browse as a "digital publication" from the Newsletters section in the Resource Library.

SMMGP is becoming increasingly concerned about the rise in liver disease in the UK and we are pleased to bring you this special edition on the liver. People using drugs and alcohol are at particular risk of liver disease, and in this edition of Network we aim to provide the knowledge to better diagnose, refer and support the treatment of this growing problem.

The following additional articles to accompany Network 33, can be downloaded below in Adobe Acrobat PDF format, as well as from the Other Resources section.

If you would like to receive copies of Network via post and/or e-mail as soon as they are released, please join the SMMGP. Membership is completely free, you can join instantly online, and there are lots of benefits - see the Free SMMGP Membership Application page for more details.

Top of Page
Divider

October-November SMMGP Clinical Update Now Online

(Posted 07 November 2011)
The October-November 2011 SMMGP Clinical Update is now available in the SMMGP Clinical & Policy Updates section in both online and downloadable versions.

If you would like to receive these Updates via e-mail as soon as they are released, please join the SMMGP. Membership is completely free, you can join instantly online, and there are lots of benefits - see the Free SMMGP Membership Application page for more details.

Top of Page
Divider

BMJ Reports Steve Brinksman's "New Directions" Conference Comments

(Posted 02 November 2011)
For those who may not already have seen it, we present a copy of the article in the BMJ dated 23 September 2011, which reported comments from a recent "New Directions" conference in Manchester made by Steve Brinksman (and psychiatrist Dr Louise Sell).

The full BMJ Article, can be downloaded below in Adobe Acrobat PDF format.

Top of Page
Divider

HCVAction Online Hepatitis C Resources

(Posted 28 October 2011)
The Hep C Trust has now launched its new web site for professionals:

"HCVAction is the online home of the hepatitis C professional community. We are committed to ensuring that more infected people are diagnosed and treated, through information sharing, awareness raising, training and campaigning."

It's a really useful resource, and includes:

Promising Practice Hub: explore examples of promising practice from across the UK in hepatitis C awareness, testing, diagnosis, treatment, prison services and more.

Resource Hub: access the latest research, reports and policy updates.

You can join for free tailored monthly updates and be the first to hear about exclusive HCVAction training events, best practice workshops and downloads of HCVAction resources.

Top of Page
Divider

SMMGP 6th National Conference Presentations & Notes Now Online

(Posted 27 October 2011)
Presentations and workshop notes from the SMMGP 6th National Conference (held in Birmingham,13 October 2011) are now available from the Conference Reports & Presentations section.

Top of Page
Divider

September-October SMMGP Policy Update Now Online

(Posted 19 October 2011)
The September-October 2011 Policy Clinical Update is now available in the SMMGP Clinical & Policy Updates section in both online and downloadable versions.

If you would like to receive these Updates via e-mail as soon as they are released, please join the SMMGP. Membership is completely free, you can join instantly online, and there are lots of benefits - see the Free SMMGP Membership Application page for more details.

Top of Page
Divider

August SMMGP Clinical Update Now Online

(Posted 12 September 2011)
The August 2011 SMMGP Clinical Update is now available in the SMMGP Clinical & Policy Updates section in both online and downloadable versions.

If you would like to receive these Updates via e-mail as soon as they are released, please join the SMMGP. Membership is completely free, you can join instantly online, and there are lots of benefits - see the Free SMMGP Membership Application page for more details.

Top of Page
Divider

August SMMGP Policy Update Now Online

(Posted 9 August 2011)
The August 2011 Policy Clinical Update is now available in the SMMGP Clinical & Policy Updates section in both online and downloadable versions.

If you would like to receive these Updates via e-mail as soon as they are released, please join the SMMGP. Membership is completely free, you can join instantly online, and there are lots of benefits - see the Free SMMGP Membership Application page for more details.

Top of Page
Divider

RCGP Cert. in the Detection, Diagnosis & Management of Hepatitis B & C in Primary Care

(Posted 25 July 2011)
SMMGP is delighted to announce the roll-out of an important new RCGP Certificate in the Detection, Diagnosis and Management of Hepatitis B and C in Primary Care.

SMMGP have developed the materials for the new RCGP Certificate under the guidance of clinical lead Euan Lawson, with input from an expert group. The Certificate is much needed response to the problem of only half of the people with hepatitis being diagnosed; and primary care can play a very important role in changing this worrying situation.

Please tell your colleagues about the Certificate, and sign up to complete it today!

Euan recently wrote about this issue in the latest edition of Network.

Top of Page
Divider

June SMMGP Clinical Update Now Online

(Posted 6 July 2011)
The June 2011 SMMGP Clinical Update is now available in the SMMGP Clinical & Policy Updates section in both online and downloadable versions.

If you would like to receive these Updates via e-mail as soon as they are released, please join the SMMGP. Membership is completely free, you can join instantly online, and there are lots of benefits - see the Free SMMGP Membership Application page for more details.

Top of Page
Divider

Welcome to Steve Brinksman, SMMGP Clinical Lead

Steve Brinksman

(Posted 6 July 2011)
We welcome to the SMMGP project team Steve Brinksman, who has officially taken up the job of Clinical Lead for SMMGP.

Steve has been a GP in Quinton in Birmingham for 20 years, working with drug and alcohol users from the beginning. Steve's career has included working in both adult and young people community drug teams and he was one of two lead GPs in substance misuse employed by Birmingham DAT to develop the highly successful primary care based drug treatment model in that city.

He has also recently been appointed by the DAAT as an alcohol lead for primary care and is also a GPwSI in South Birmingham. He has been the RCGP's regional lead in substance misuse for the West Midlands since 2004.

We are excited about working with Steve and look forward to his clinical leadership for SMMGP.

Top of Page
Divider

RCGP Conference Notes & Presentations Now Online

(Posted 5 July 2011)
Presentations and workshop notes from the RCGP 16th National Conference (held in Harrogate,12-13 May 2011) are now available from the Conference Reports & Presentations section.

Top of Page
Divider

SMMGP Response to CPS "Breaking the Habit" Report

(Posted 28 June 2011)
SMMGP responded to recent media reports on the Centre for Policy Studies report by Kathy Gyngell entitled "Breaking the Habit: Why the state should stop dealing drugs and start doing rehab" (June 2011), by submitting an abbreviated version of the letter (below) to several newspapers today, as well as by making a complaint to the BBC.

The full letter can be downloaded below as part of our response to this inaccurate and misleading report.

The SMMGP Response, as well as the original CPS report, can be downloaded below in Adobe Acrobat PDF format.

Top of Page
Divider

Management Apprenticeships - Funding Available Now

(Posted 27 June 2011)
Skills for Justice are working in partnership with London Skills Network (LSN) to offer two Management Apprenticeship Programmes at up to 80% discount to employers in England.

The closing date for registering your interest is Friday 1 July 2011.

Please read all the information (below) carefully, then complete and return the expression of interest form to Charlotte.Powell@skillsforjustice.com if you wish to be considered for this funding.

There are no age restrictions and the only employees who cannot access the funding are graduate level employees. The programmes on offer are:

The Management Apprenticeships Information Leaflet can be downloaded below in Adobe Acrobat PDF format, and the Expression of Interest Form in MicroSoft Word format.

Top of Page
Divider

Chris Ford retires as SMMGP Clinical Director

(Posted 17 June 2011)
Chris Ford is retiring as SMMGP Clinical Director. Chris has worked tirelessly in the role from the moment she set up the organisation in 1996. She has an amazing ability to work across many levels, from writing guidance and training, and working strategically, to working at her "real job" as a GP in a busy London practice.

It is impossible to list all her achievements during her time with SMMGP, but here are just some of them:

Throughout every aspect of her work runs a deep commitment to treating patients using drugs and alcohol as individuals with a range of needs, rather than reducing them to the substance they happen to be using - her mantra is "treat the patient, not the drug!" - and a belief that primary care is the perfect place to treat drug and alcohol users and their families. Chris has always insisted on involving service users in the development of new projects to ensure they remain at the heart of the services she provides.

Chris has had an enormous influence on the drug and alcohol treatment field and it is unlikely that there would be the range and quality of treatment available in primary care without her work over the years. She leaves a healthy and thriving organisation and a legacy which will continue long into the future. We admire Chris' infectious enthusiasm, her awesome drive, her magnificent leadership skills which are coupled with the ability to be a team player, her creativity, and the strong value base that underpins every aspect of her work. All of these are expressed in an unparalleled capacity for hard work - followed by an equal investment in having fun! We will strive to continue to honour these attributes in all aspects of SMMGP's future work. However, we are pleased that this is "fare thee well" rather than "goodbye" as Chris will continue to be "on call" for SMMGP's burgeoning range of projects.

She will continue to work for the next couple of years as a partner at the Lonsdale Medical Practice, where she has worked for the past 25 years and where her interest in working with people who use drugs and alcohol began. She has always enjoyed this work seeing it as a privilege, and says she has learnt all she knows from her patients. She has recently become Clinical Director of IDHDP, and we wish her every success, and will work closely with her in this important work to develop healthy drug policies internationally.

Top of Page
Divider

32nd Edition of "Network" Now Online

(Posted 16 June 2011)
Issue 32 of "Network", the SMMGP Newsletter, is now available to read online, download in Adobe Acrobat PDF format, or browse as a "digital publication" from the Newsletters section in the Resource Library.

If you would like to receive copies of Network via post and/or e-mail as soon as they are released, please join the SMMGP. Membership is completely free, you can join instantly online, and there are lots of benefits - see the Free SMMGP Membership Application page for more details.

Top of Page
Divider

May SMMGP Policy Update Now Online

(Posted 8 June 2011)
The May 2011 Policy Clinical Update is now available in the SMMGP Clinical & Policy Updates section in both online and downloadable versions.

If you would like to receive these Updates via e-mail as soon as they are released, please join the SMMGP. Membership is completely free, you can join instantly online, and there are lots of benefits - see the Free SMMGP Membership Application page for more details.

Top of Page
Divider

Matthew Southwell's "Nothing About Me Without Me" Video

(Posted 17 May 2011)
Matthew Southwell presented his "Nothing About Me Without Me" speech at the recent RCGP 16th National Conference.

You can now view a video of the speech online ...please see the "RCGP Conference" section for more details, and for other conference material as it becomes available.

The speech is entitled "Nothing About Me Without Me" in acknowledgement of INPUD's (International Network of People who Use Drugs) founding statement "Nothing About Us Without Us".

In the speech Matthew explores meaningful participation from his time running a participative drug services in the national health service for ten years through his work as a drug user activist and most recent engagement in the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board. He explores the nature of meaningful participation from clinical practice, through staffing and onto engagement in management and policy fora.

He draws on reflections and illustrations from his time as health service manager and professional head of service, his time leading the UK drug user movements engagement with the NTA and his current work with the United Nations, to illustrate his argument.

Top of Page
Divider

April SMMGP Clinical Update Now Online

(Posted 10 May 2011)
The April 2011 SMMGP Clinical Update is now available in the SMMGP Clinical & Policy Updates section in both online and downloadable versions.

If you would like to receive these Updates via e-mail as soon as they are released, please join the SMMGP. Membership is completely free, you can join instantly online, and there are lots of benefits - see the Free SMMGP Membership Application page for more details.

Top of Page
Divider

HIV and Injecting Drug Use: A Global Call for Action

(Posted 5 May 2011)
HIV and Injecting Drug Use: A Global Call for Action
The Official Declaration of the 2011 International Harm Reduction Conference (IHRA)

Harm Reduction International (IHRA) has issued a Global Call for Action in the official 2011 IHRA Conference Declaration on HIV and Injecting Drug Use (IDU)...

Of the 33.3 million people living with HIV globally, an estimated three million are people who inject drugs. They account for 30% of HIV infections outside of sub-Saharan Africa, and up to 80% of infections in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

The 2001 UNGASS Declaration of Commitment and the 2006 Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS established time-bound targets to be met and reported on by countries worldwide. The commitments aimed to address the needs of people who inject drugs, their families and the communities in which they live through an "urgent, coordinated and sustained response". These commitments remain unfulfilled. People who inject drugs are increasing as a percentage of global HIV infections with devastating consequences for individuals and communities.

The mobilisation of an "intensified, much more urgent and comprehensive response" to HIV for people who inject drugs requires strong global leadership, concrete national policies and adequate funds to implement and scale up evidence-based services. The targets and commitments set in the 2006 Political Declaration must be met to address the needs of, and to fulfill the human rights of people who inject drugs living with and at risk of HIV. World leaders gathering at the June 2011 UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS must ensure that these commitments are met as a matter of urgency.

At the 2011 United Nations High Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS, we, the undersigned, call for:

1) Acknowledgement that people who use drugs, as a key population group affected by HIV and AIDS, have not reached universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support;
2) Renewed commitment and action toward the goal of universal access to comprehensive HIV prevention, treatment, care and support for people who inject drugs through the financing, implementation and scale-up of evidence-based harm reduction interventions; and
3) Commitment to removing legal and policy barriers to achieving the aims above, particularly a reorientation of punitive drug policies toward evidence- and human rights-based approaches.

It is time for action on HIV-related harm reduction. It is time for accountability for the rights of people who inject drugs.

You can learn more and sign the Declaration on the IHRA web site...

IHRA Declaration published in the Lancet

The Lancet (www.thelancet.com) recently published an editorial explicitly endorsing the IHRA Conference Declaration. The article is an excellent piece of support for advocacy efforts towards the UN High-Level Meeting on AIDS that will take place June 8-10, 2011 in New York.

The IHRA Declaration, and the Lancet Editorial on the Declaration can be downloaded below in Adobe Acrobat PDF format.

Top of Page
Divider

The Vienna Declaration - Over 20,000 Endorsements

The Vienna Declaration

(Posted 18 April 2011)
The Vienna Declaration, which we first mentioned back in July 2010, now has over 20,000 endorsements from organisations, professional bodies, scientists, academics and members of the general public around the world.

The Vienna Declaration calls for the incorporation of scientific evidence into illicit drug policies. Research shows that the criminalization of illicit drug users is fuelling the HIV epidemic worldwide and has resulted in overwhelmingly negative health and social consequences. The Declaration signals a significant turning point in this debate with its call for a full policy reorientation.

Learn more about the Declaration, and sign up today:

Top of Page
Divider

March SMMGP Policy Update Now Online

(Posted 4 March 2011)
The March 2011 Policy Clinical Update is now available in the SMMGP Clinical & Policy Updates section in both online and downloadable versions.

This month's Policy Update unapologetically focusses on the draft Health and Social Care Bill and its implications. Also included is the first of our regular quarterly updates on the many projects that SMMGP is busy working on.

If you would like to receive these Updates via e-mail as soon as they are released, please join the SMMGP. Membership is completely free, you can join instantly online, and there are lots of benefits - see the Free SMMGP Membership Application page for more details.

Top of Page
Divider

NTA Eastern Recovery Month June 2011

(Posted 3 March 2011)
Back by popular demand, the NTA announces the 2nd Eastern Recovery Month.

During June 2011 the NTA is encouraging local drug users, service users and ex-users and others to get together to celebrate recovery. They are keen for everyone to get involved and, if possible, host an event.

The theme for this year will be Recovery Champions and Recovery Awards (for services or projects that have had a large impact upon recovery journeys).

If you plan to run an event and would like an NTA representative to attend please call them on 01223 372 553 or e-mail sharone.jacobs@nta-nhs.org.uk .

They will also help publicise your event by letting their contacts know about it.

...And, if you can't run an event yourself, could you promote Recovery Month? Tell your clients, recovery champions and contacts about it. Encourage them to get involved!

The NTA 2nd Eastern Recovery Month Flyer can be downloaded below in Adobe Acrobat PDF format.

Top of Page
Divider

Jim Orford Seminar on Addiction Treatment Research

(Posted 25 March 2011)
A new presentation by Jim Orford has been added to the Other Resources section of the Resource Library entitled "Time to Ask the Right Questions in the Right Way: A New Direction for Addiction Treatment Research?".

This fascinating seminar stretches our minds to consider whether we have been asking the right questions in addictions treatment research. Is the dominance of randomised control trials in the field leading us to miss essential questions about how to deliver effective services for drug and alcohol users by ignoring the processes behind the treatment delivery? Are we so focused upon treatment services that we miss the importance of the less formal, more difficult to measure social networks that may in fact have a greater impact for many people in recovery?

Readers may also be interested in Jim's paper "Asking the right questions in the right way: the need for a shift in research on psychological treatments for addiction" (Addiction, Volume 103, Issue 6, pages 875-885, June 2008).

Top of Page
Divider

IDHDP Letters Section Added to Web Site

(Posted 14 March 2011)
A new section has been added to the IDHDP site to hold copies of lobbying letters sent by IDHDP in support of their ongoing campaign to inform policy makers and bring about change in policies that adversely affect people who use drugs.

Top of Page
Divider

February SMMGP Clinical Update Now Online

(Posted 14 March 2011)
The February 2011 SMMGP Clinical Update is now available in the SMMGP Clinical & Policy Updates section in both online and downloadable versions.

If you would like to receive these Updates via e-mail as soon as they are released, please join the SMMGP. Membership is completely free, you can join instantly online, and there are lots of benefits - see the Free SMMGP Membership Application page for more details.

Top of Page
Divider

"Post-its from Practice" Section Updated

(Posted 8 March 2011)
SMMGP Clinical Director Dr Chris Ford writes the regular "Post-its from Practice" articles for "Drink & Drugs News (DDN)" Magazine, with occasional input from other clinicians.

With kind permission from DDN, "Post-its from Practice" articles appear in the Post-its from Practice section of the Resource Library.

The Post-its from Practice section has now been updated with all the Post-its from January 2010 onwards:

Top of Page
Divider

31st Edition of "Network" Now Online

(Posted 6 March 2011)
Issue 31 of "Network", the SMMGP Newsletter, is now available to read online, download in Adobe Acrobat PDF format, or browse as a "digital publication" from the Newsletters section in the Resource Library.

The changes brought in by the coalition government are so numerous that it is difficult to keep apace with what is happening, how everything will fit together, and how it will affect drug and alcohol services in the future. In this edition of Network we will look at some of the main themes of the new political environment and how they may impact on primary care based drug treatment.

If you would like to receive copies of Network via post and/or e-mail as soon as they are released, please join the SMMGP. Membership is completely free, you can join instantly online, and there are lots of benefits - see the Free SMMGP Membership Application page for more details.

Top of Page
Divider

New Opioid Prescribing Guidance

(Posted 24 February 2011)
We are pleased to present the new "Guidance for the use of substitute prescribing in the treatment of opioid dependence in primary care" completely updated in line with NICE, Clinical Guidelines and the recovery agenda.

Opioid dependence is common in the UK and there are effective substitution medications, including methadone and buprenorphine, to support treatment. This guidance covers the use of substitute medication, which can be an important element in the treatment of opioid dependent patients and their medically assisted recovery (MAR).

The document is now available in the Guidance Documents section of the Resource Library.

We hope you find it useful and are happy for any comments.

Top of Page
Divider

SMMGP Now Tweeting!

(Posted 23 February 2011)
SMMGP is now on Twitter - please folow us at www.twitter.com/SMMGP.

The 4 most recent tweets also appear on the SMMGP Home page.

Top of Page
Divider

Dr Linda Harris Discusses Payment by Results

(Posted 21 February 2011)
For practitioners in the substance misuse field it's impossible at the moment to avoid the "noise in the system" about Payment by Results (PbR). In a new article now available in the Other Resources section of the Resource Library, Dr Linda Harris provides some historical background, discusses the economic principles behind the model and debates where and how this fits with the wider healthcare reforms affecting our patients and the way we deliver care:

Linda will also be leading a discussion on the subject on the (completely free to use) SMMGP Online Forums for anyone interested.

Top of Page
Divider

January SMMGP Policy Update Now Online

(Posted 8 February 2011)
The January 2011 Policy Clinical Update is now available in the SMMGP Clinical & Policy Updates section in both online and downloadable versions.

If you would like to receive these Updates via e-mail as soon as they are released, please join the SMMGP. Membership is completely free, you can join instantly online, and there are lots of benefits - see the Free SMMGP Membership Application page for more details.

Top of Page
Divider

New Section for RCGP Certificate Resources

(Posted 03 February 2011)
A new RCGP Certificate Resources section has been added to the Resource Library.

This section will provide access to documents relating to RCGP Certificate courses. Currently, it includes material relevant to the "RCGP Certificate in Harm Reduction, Health and Wellbeing for Substance Users".

For further general information on RCGP Certificate courses, please see the RCGP Training section.

Top of Page
Divider

1st DrugFAM Newsletter Now Online

(Posted 31 January 2011)
DrugFAM is a registered charity supporting famililes, carers and friends affected by substance abuse. their mission is to establish themselves as a lifeline for families struggling with the nightmare of addiction.

With their kind permission, we have just added a DrugFAM Newsletters section to the Resource Library. This new section will hold editions of their DrugFAM Newsletter - the 1st edition (Spring 2011) is now available.

For more information about DrugFAM, please see the DrugFAM website.

Top of Page
Divider

SMMGP 5th National Conference Presentations & Photos Online

(Posted 25 January 2011)
Presentations, workshop notes, and photos from the SMMGP 5th National Conference (held in Newcastle,15 October 2010) are now available from the Conference Reports & Presentations section.

Top of Page
Divider

Dr Chris Ford Podcast Discussing the Founding of the IDHDP

(Posted 11 January 2011)
On 27 September 2010, SMMGP Clinical Lead Dr Chris Ford was interviewed by Holly Catania, Project Director for the International Center for Advancement of Addiction Treatment (ICAAT).

During the 13 minute podcast Chris talks about her experiences as a primary care clinician working with people who use drugs, and about the inaugural meeting of the IDHDP.

The podcast is available in the International Doctors for Healthy Drug Policies (IDHDP) section of the site.

Top of Page
Divider

December SMMGP Clinical Update Now Online

(Posted 10 January 2011)
The December 2010 SMMGP Clinical Update is now available in the SMMGP Clinical & Policy Updates section in both online and downloadable versions.

If you would like to receive these Updates via e-mail as soon as they are released, please join the SMMGP. Membership is completely free, you can join instantly online, and there are lots of benefits - see the Free SMMGP Membership Application page for more details.

Top of Page
Divider

Funding Crisis Facing Release

(Posted 10 January 2011)
Release is a valuable resource for SMMGP, people who use drugs, and professionals right across the field. It is currently experiencing a funding crisis. The following is a letter sent from Release Trustee Chris Ford to Dr Linda Harris (RCGP SMU Clinical Director) and all SMU Leads.

If anyone has any comments, or can offer any help or suggestions, please contact Release Director Sebastian Saville sebastian@release.org.uk.

Dear Linda and All

Re: Funding crisis facing Release

I am writing as a trustee of the organisation to bring your attention to the funding crisis facing Release. As you will be aware - the team of lawyers and drugs experts at Release provide national helpline services to the general public and to professionals right across the field.

Home Office funding for Release was ended in 2005/06 for what we were repeatedly told was administrative reasons due to the devolving of budgets. At the same time the previous administration spent millions of pounds setting up and advertising the Ask Frank initiative. It is our understanding that this continues. We feel that it is a little unbalanced to heavily fund what is a very basic information service and withdraw all funding from a national service that provides real expertise on drugs and the law.

Without any statutory core funding Release has managed to maintain a high level of professionally delivered services by adapting to a businesslike environment and obtaining financial support from foundations, the business community and members of the public. This has allowed us to provide what is essentially a free service to the British public. However, due to the recession we are now facing real financial difficulties and to continue in this manner is no longer possible.

The Release helplines takes hundreds of calls a month on specialist areas of drugs and drug law. Without Release there will be no service in the UK to help some of the most marginalized in our community. If we are unable to secure funding from the government in the next 2-3 weeks - the help lines at Release will cease taking calls in January 2011.

I hope very much that you will be able to discuss ways to provide support to Release and help us to continue to deliver a service that is not only unique but also much needed.

I am really upset that if we don't fight we could easily see the end of this amazing and important service. We look forward to hearing from you.

Yours Sincerely
Dr Chris Ford
Trustee