Norfolk County Council avoids High Court wrangle over drug treatment

A potentially costly High Court battle over how services should be provided to Norfolk people with drug and alcohol addictions has been avoided.

A judge has 'struck out' a legal challenge against Norfolk County Council and the Drug and Alcohol Action Team's (DAAT) decision to award a contract to provide services for people who have problems with drink or drugs.

The contract was due to be handed to the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust working in a consortium with The Matthew Project and Rapt (Rehabilitation for Addicted Prisoners Trust).

But a legal challenge was brought against the county council by national health and social care provider Turning Point, which has a head office based in London.

However, the council has just been told that a judge has ruled the challenge will not be allowed to proceed to the High Court - ending uncertainty over the future of services for some of the most vulnerable people in the county.

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Harold Bodmer, chairman of the Norfolk Drug and Alcohol Partnership and community services director at Norfolk County Council said: 'We are delighted with the outcome of the hearing, we can move forward with the partnership vision to ensure the future development of the drug and alcohol treatment and recovery system for clients, and their families, in Norfolk.'

A contract can now be taken up to provide a single adult drug and alcohol system, retaining the workforce skills, and expertise which already exists across the county.

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The partnership wants to have a more joined up drug and alcohol treatment system for adults in Norfolk, which will increase the number of people able to recover from their dependence by providing individual support and treatment packages of care.

The new system will also give individuals more opportunities to continue their recovery within the community and provide further support to affected family and friends.

The county council said DAAT officers have been working closely with all concerned, especially the organisations which currently provide the service, including The Matthew Project, NORCAS, Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust and Norfolk and Suffolk Probation Service.

The DAAT officers have been supporting staff and service users, which will continue during the next stages leading up to the new system being put in place.

The county council said legal costs are currently being assessed, but that the authority has been awarded costs against Turning Point, so most of the money spent defending the challenge will be recovered.

A Turning Point's spokesman said: 'Turning Point as the highest scoring bidder disputed the basis of the council's disqualification of our tender, we felt we had an important and genuine case and an innovative vision for delivery of the service and regret that on this occasion we will not have the opportunity to provide our services in Norfolk.

'We do however wish the consortium every success in their delivery of the new service and look forward to future opportunities working in partnership with Norfolk County Council.'

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