Drug Treatment Cash “Could Be Cut” After Computer Error

August 7, 2009

Bristol could get less money for drug treatment programmes because city bosses have been using an outdated computer system to collect information.

The software used by drug agencies in Bristol is incompatible with the government’s, meaning Bristol can no longer pass information to the national database.

Without that information, around 3,500 people treated in Bristol will not feature on this year’s national figures.

That could reduce the amount of money given to treat addicts in the city — a prospect described as “scandalous and outrageous” by one of the city’s top drugs workers.

Bosses at Safer Bristol Partnership, an umbrella organisation of the police and council, will also now have to scrap the system they have been using since 2004 and pay for a new one.

Maggie Telfer from the Bristol Drugs Project said: “It is difficult to express how angry and upset we and other people providing drug treatment in the city are at this IT failure, which is not of our making, beyond our control and does not reflect what’s happening in the city.

“We provide help to those affected by drug use day-in-day-out through services which promote health, reduce crime and help people with a drug problem re-build their lives.

“Data processing has let down our hard working providers, whose successes will not be included in the national data to be published this autumn.”

But Alison Comley from Safer Bristol Partnership told #SITE_NAME# she would pull out the stops to make sure data was entered onto a new system in time to ensure funding is not affected.

She said: “It is difficult to say whose fault this is. We have tried to ensure this communication system happens smoothly but for technical reasons it has not been possible to make this happen.”

But she said Bristol would not have to pay for a new bespoke computer system as various off-the-shelf programs are available, and it would simply mean transferring their existing £80,000 annual software budget to a new system.

And she added: “This is a data capture issue. It in no way reflects on the excellent drug treatment services available in the city. People who use those services will not be affected by this.”


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