BLACKBURN with Darwen Council is to put its contracts for treating drug addicts and alcoholics out to tender.

The current deals run out on May 31 but senior councillors are to be asked to extend them until December 1 to allow the tender process to take place.

The 'Tier 4 Substance Misuse Services' contracts come in three lots.

They are inpatient detoxification (medically managed and medically monitored), residential rehabilitation placements and direct access support.

On Thursday night Blackburn with Darwen Council's executive board meeting will be urged to start the new tender process by the authority's public health boss Cllr Damian Talbot.

Currently detoxification and residential rehabilitation are provided through Burnley-based Calico Group's Spark’s substance misuse service which is an innovative partnership that combines specialist drug and alcohol services with health, housing and criminal justice partner and community groups.

Direct access, or crisis, beds are delivered by Blackburn's 'Those At The Margins of Society' (THOMAS) organisation.

Cllr Talbot is recommending his colleagues authorise the start of the new tendering process with an expected budget of £558,063 for 2024/24, £20,882 more than the current contracts.

His report says: "The provision of Tier 4 Substance Misuse services across Blackburn with Darwen will be retendered due to the current contracts coming to an end on the May 31 2024.

"The current Tier 4 service provision incorporates a range of service contracts, covering inpatient detoxification (medically managed and medically monitored), residential rehabilitation placements and direct access support.

"The aim of the procurement process is to provide service users with appropriate placements to support their treatment and recovery from substance misuse whilst achieving value for money within a more efficient service offer and improved quality outcomes.

"Drug misuse has a massive cost to society with more than 3,000 people dying as a result of drug misuse in 2021.

"Alcohol and drug use by adults is widespread; around 10 million adults in England drink above the low risk guidelines, and around 3.2 million people took drugs in 2020.

"It is estimated that 589,000 adults are dependent on alcohol and about 1.5 million showed signs of dependence on drugs,

"Tier 4 services are part of a system wide service offer to address prevention, early identification, treatment and recovery pathways for communities affected by drug and alcohol misuse.

"Delivered on behalf of Blackburn with Darwen Council, the CALICO Spark’s substance misuse service is inclusive and flexible aiming to bring transformational change to people using their service, their families, and the community they live in."

Cllr Talbot says it is likely that the most suitable provider for crisis beds will be THOMAS as the incumbent provider which has over many years 'a proven track record in Blackburn'."