Argyll and Bute Council and its partners must learn lessons from a damning report on the commissioning of services for people in Helensburgh and Lomond suffering from alcohol and drug addictions, local MSP Jackie Baillie has said.
Audit Scotland agreed to Jackie Baillie’s request earlier this year for an urgent review into Argyll and Bute Council’s decision to award a contract for addictions services to Addaction Scotland after service users and rehabilitation staff in Helensburgh got in touch with the MSP to raise serious concerns about flaws in the tendering process.
The report was published this week and highlights several key concerns:
- Addaction Scotland was not registered with the Care Inspectorate to provide regulated services in Argyll and Bute until 25 February 2015. It was, therefore, in breach of the contract requirements from 1 January to 25 February 2015.
- In November 2014 the contract was awarded to Addaction Scotland with a start date of 1 January 2015. It is acknowledged that this lead time was too short. The existing contracts with a Helensburgh-based third sector organisation were only extended after Jackie Baillie highlighted fears with the Scottish Government that vulnerable service users would be left without support.
- Ambiguity over a key element of the contract has left the Council open to possible legal challenges. Two potential bidders told Audit Scotland that they did not submit bids for the contract because of the onerous nature of the housing support services that they believed were required within the fixed price for the contract. Addaction Scotland secured agreement from the Council to discontinue housing services as soon as the contract was awarded.
- Governance arrangements for Argyll and Bute Alcohol and Drugs Partnership need to be improved including procedures for preparation, approval and custody of ADP minutes.
“The service users and staff from Helensburgh Addiction Rehabilitation Team are vindicated in the concerns they raised with me about the mishandling of the procurement process. Despite months of complaining to Argyll and Bute Council and the ADP they were getting nowhere so I am pleased that Audit Scotland took this matter very seriously and agreed to my request for a review.
“While this report does not challenge the validity of the contract awarded to Addaction Scotland, there are some key lessons that must be learned for the future. I would expect Argyll and Bute Council and the ADP to ensure that all the recommendations are accepted and implemented as soon as possible