Hawkspring closure result of short-sighted health planning

4604003366_203x74The imminent closure of Hartcliffe-based Hawkspring drug and alcohol service is “the tragic result of short-sighted health planning,” says Bristol South MP Karin Smyth.

The Labour MP has written (3 March 2016) to Mayor of Bristol and co-chair of the city’s Health and Wellbeing Board, George Ferguson, following a decision by the Hawkspring Board to close the organisation, after a proposed merger with The Matthew Tree Foundation, which would have secured its future, fell through.

She has asked for assurances that the mayor and staff in Public Health and other departments have explored every potential funding source to ensure that Hawkspring can continue its vital work.

The letter in full is as shown below.

Dear George

Karin Smyth MPI understand that following a Board meeting of the Hawkspring drug and alcohol service this week, a decision has been made to close the organisation, following the stalling of a proposed merger with The Matthew Tree Foundation. I understand money needed to continue the service’s work has run out and so the Board reluctantly decided their only option is to close. I have included a copy of the statement from Hawkspring with this letter.

It is desperately sad that it has come to this. Only last week I attended a Hawkspring information meeting at which I learned from staff that the demand for the services they provide has not dropped since last summer when a reprieve from imminent closure was reached.

Hawkspring, created following the merger of the Hawks and Kwads charities, brought together a combined experience of over 30 years’ delivery of vital support. Its community based approach proved to be highly effective, enabling the charity to help many hundreds of local people since its creation, crucially reaching out and supporting those who may not have otherwise received vital help. As you know, members of the local community have been very active donating time and money to keep the centre open, making it very well established in the local area. Indeed, Hawkspring was originally set up by mothers in the local community who were active in securing help for drug addicted young people.

Last month I discussed the situation with Bristol’s Public Health Service Director and followed this in writing, reiterating that whilst Hawkspring sits outside of the commissioned services model following tendering it still plays an extremely important role in an area with one of the highest levels of deprivation in the country. If Hawkspring were to close it would be the tragic result of short-sighted health planning. Closure will lead to an inevitable increase in demand on social services, GP services and A & E.

The question I put last July to the council and other health commissioners once again needs to be answered: Where and how will those people who need the services currently provided by Hawkspring get the support they require?

The role of the city council’s Health and Wellbeing Board is to co-ordinate the commissioning and provision of services across the NHS, social care and voluntary sector for the benefit and wellbeing of local people. With an increase in demand from drug and alcohol users and their families, the need for leadership has never been more important.

As we head towards the financial year end can you assure me that you and your officers in Public Health and in any other relevant departments have explored every potential funding source to ensure that Hawkspring can continue their vital work in my constituency.

I repeat the call I made of you last July as co-chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board, to step in and prevent the closure of this invaluable organisation.

I look forward to your urgent response.

Yours sincerely

Karin Smyth MP