Commissioner welcomes release of report into the review of Alcohol and Other Drug services
Health Complaints Commissioner Karen Cusack has welcomed the Victorian Government’s release of the Commissioner’s report – Review of private health service providers offering alcohol and other drug rehabilitation and counselling services in Victoria.
View the full report downloadable below.
Alcohol and other drug treatment services are an important issue for the Commissioner, who receives and deals with complaints in relation to all health service providers, including both private and public drug rehabilitation service facilities.
The Commissioner began the comprehensive review of Victorian privately funded alcohol and other drug rehabilitation and counselling services following the provision of funding from the State government, as part of the Victorian Government’s Drug Rehabilitation Plan.
The use of alcohol and other drugs in society contributes to more than $55 billion in preventable health and harms in Australia each year and in 2017 was responsible for 1795 drug-induced deaths of Australians.
Privately funded alcohol and other drug services perform an important role in supplementing the publicly funded services that help treat people affected by alcohol and other drug addiction. More than 40,000 Victorians access alcohol and other drug treatment services each year.
“Between 2017 and May 2018 when my office commenced the sector wide inquiry, we had received 49 complaints about privately funded alcohol and other drug services alone,” Commissioner Cusack said.
Alcohol and other drug treatment clients and their families are often some of the most vulnerable members of the community. Long wait times to access services in the public system have led to the growth of the privately funded sector. The Commissioner’s review confirmed some of the disturbing patterns within the privately funded alcohol and other drug treatment sector that had been identified through complaints to her office.
“With the extra funding from the Victorian Government in 2018, my office was able to conduct this major inquiry across the whole privately funded alcohol and other drug treatment sector to inquire into issues around unsafe and substandard services that were evident through our complaints,” Ms Cusack said.
“The inquiry also resulted in a number of separate investigations into specific, privately funded alcohol and other drug treatment service providers. Our review confirmed the existence of poor practices among some privately funded providers; practices which had been raised through complaints to our office,” she said.
Ms Cusack said the common issues arising in the complaints received included; concerns about the safety and effectiveness of treatments, cleanliness of facilities, inappropriate discharge of patients, and exploitative billing practices – sometimes involving treatments costing up to $30,000, and a lack of informed consent for financial and treatment decisions.
“Alcohol and other drug treatment clients and their families are often in a vulnerable position, either dealing with alcohol and/or drug addiction themselves, or the addiction of a family member, and often facing long wait times to access services in the public system, which has led to the growth of the private sector,” Ms Cusack said.
The Commissioner said her report, Review of private health service providers offering alcohol and other drug rehabilitation and counselling services in Victoria has made 21 recommendations that she considers would establish a stronger regulatory landscape for providing alcohol and other drug rehabilitation and counselling services by privately funded health service providers in Victoria. It would also bring privately funded alcohol and other drug services more closely into line with publicly funded services, Ms Cusack said.
The three key recommendations of the report, once enacted, would establish a framework to maintain and monitor the quality and safety standards in the private alcohol and other drug treatment sector to ensure that all Victorians accessing alcohol and other drug treatment services receive high-quality, safe and ethical treatment.
Ms Cusack said she was pleased the Review of private health service providers offering alcohol and other drug rehabilitation and counselling services in Victoria report had been released and that the State government was currently reviewing and assessing the recommendations.
For more information and to view the full report, visit hcc.vic.gov.a