“Shouldn’t compassion be a key guiding principle?”
This was just one of the questions raised at our recent consultation event for NHS England, about the new core service specification for substance misuse services in prisons.
NHS England has a statutory duty to involve patients and the public in all their decisions, which results in a stronger commitment to co-producing services than we’re used to in many parts of the Criminal Justice System. So as part of the process of updating the prison substance misuse service specification, they asked Clinks to help them talk to the voluntary sector and people with lived experience to find out what works well with current services, and what needs to be different.
If you would like to help shape the service specification, there’s still time to get involved. We are running a second consultation event in Leeds on Friday 13th January – find out more and book online here. Or contact firstname.lastname@example.org to feed in your thoughts by email.
For a cricket fan like myself, the consultation event being held in a room at the Oval was a surprise extra bonus! But the main joy, as I’ve so often found at Clinks events, was hearing the knowledge, experience and passion that our members and the people they support bring to the table. The NHS team commented afterwards on how engaged and passionate everyone was – so thank you to all those who came!
We looked at a number of different sections of the new specification, from the ‘guiding principles’ which will govern how services and activities should be delivered; what interventions are needed, and how outcomes should be measured; and different aspects of services such as peer support, handling complaints, and support for family, friends and carers. Some of the key themes that emerged from the discussions included:
- The need for better integration of services across prison establishments – creating a single assessment process and recovery plan looking at all an individual’s needs, and shared outcomes – but still retaining specialist support for substance misuse issues
- Greater emphasis on aftercare, continuing to work with people in recovery and linking into community services for ongoing support after release
- Supporting (re-) engagement with families, and providing support to family members and carers as well as the individual
- The value of involving people with lived experience as peer supporters – this needs to be maintained.
At the end of the day, we asked everyone to write down the key message they would want NHS England to take away. Here are just a few of the comments people left:
“Listen to what service users have to say”
“Continuity and consistent support, from the beginning right through to post-treatment”
“More compassion/meeting individuals needs in recovery rather than just following processes”
“It’s good to be consulted in future policy decisions”