Following an expert seminar to explore the issues around applying payment by results to drug recovery, this briefing reviews the possible impacts of the introduction of this funding system for treatment and recovery services for problem drug users. It outlines how payment by results works, examines how payment by results has been used elsewhere, and discusses the issues and challenges that will affect its introduction for drug treatment.
The briefing concludes that there is wide support for a more outcome-based system of funding and purchasing services, and for a greater focus on recovery and social reintegration. The direction of travel is welcomed, but the devil is in the details. A cautious approach combined with thorough and robust evaluation is of particular importance given that the approach being taken to payment by results in recovery is going into uncharted territories and is effectively a social experiment with a particularly vulnerable group.
This work is part of a wider UKDPC project considering the impact on drug services of a move towards greater localism in a period of financial austerity.