Regulators praise Spectrum's clinical drug and alcohol services for compassionate care


A healthcare provider is aiming to share best practice after all its substance misuse services were rated “Good” or ”Outstanding” by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) this year.

Established in 2011, Spectrum Community Health CIC is a not-for-profit social enterprise which provides specialist clinical and non-clinical support in four drug and alcohol treatment services:

  • County Durham Drug and Alcohol Service – rated “Outstanding” for Care and “Good” in all other CQC assessment criteria in April 2022
  • South Tyneside Adult Recovery Service – rated “Good” in July 2022
  • York Drug and Alcohol Service – rated “Outstanding” in July 2022 for their substance misuse service
  • North Yorkshire Horizons – rated “Outstanding” in all assessment areas in 2018

Across Yorkshire and the North East, these partnership services support people and families affected by drugs and alcohol, encouraging clients to work towards recovery and make long-term, positive changes. They offer service-users a mixture of 1:1 support and clinical care (including access to opioid substitution therapy and medications), as well as harm reduction advice and life-saving naloxone training. Each service also works closely with NHS Hospital Trusts, GP practices, charities and mental health services to support follow-on referrals and support for their patients.

Spectrum has been praised for teamwork, leadership and innovative practice across these partnerships as well as a committed focus on outreach. The following highlights were recognised by the CQC:

  • North Yorkshire Horizons was rated “Outstanding” in all areas by the CQC in 2018. More recently, this service has collaborated with NHS England and the Hepatitis C Trust to improve the treatment of hepatitis C
  • County Durham Drug and Alcohol Service recently invested in a rapid-testing machine for hepatitis C, allowing service users to be tested quickly and access same-day referral to specialist services if needed. The CQC found that “staff treat clients with compassion and kindness, actively involving clients, families and carers in care decisions.” In 2019, this service also became one of the first to offer naloxone training to custody officers.
  • York Drug and Alcohol Service was praised for working with hostels and women’s refuges to support clients experiencing domestic abuse. Staff teams also promoted health campaigns and delivered flu vaccinations to vulnerable people. The CQC report stated that “clients were all extremely positive about the care and treatment they received – they commented on how staff listen, do not pass any judgements and help people to achieve their goals.”
  • In South Tyneside, staff were praised for working with a wide range of external providers to support clients, including NHS Trusts, housing services, GPs and pharmacies. They also had appropriate safety procedures and plans for assessing and managing clinical risk

Susie Maguire, Director of Operations in the North East, says, “Expertise in substance misuse is one of our core strengths as a healthcare provider and we are committed to tackling the health inequalities which patients affected by addiction can face. Over the years, we have trained hundreds of doctors to support patients with drug and alcohol problems and developed new, thriving partnerships supporting communities in Yorkshire and the North East.

“Spectrum was founded to support vulnerable people who might otherwise ‘fall through the cracks’ of the system, and we know that many people struggling with addiction still experience stigma and face barriers in accessing the support they need. Alongside our partners Humankind and Changing Lives, we are committed to changing that.”

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