I have been involved in community consultations for a local organization that looks at public health. In the last consultation, we were tasked with identifying policy priority areas around 6 main areas, including ‘Alcohol and Substance Misuse’. At the end of the day we had to pick two top priorities, which ended up being 1) Exploring safe injection in London, and 2) Educating health providers about addictions to decrease stigma.
At today’s event, the goal is to take the 2 action priorities for the 6 areas, and start evolving them into explicit policy directions. You can imagine my surprise in looking through the workbook for today when I noticed that safe injection had disappeared from the priority list for ‘Alcohol and Substance Misuse’. It was replaced by the priority we had ranked 3rd, a public education campaign to address city-wide stigma around addictions.
So, here I had been sharing with friends and colleagues that London was poised to get ahead of the curve in addressing substance use, and this was going to be led by a very large and very credible public health organization. However, it appears that the priority was too hot to handle. What is most diappointing to me from a process perspective is that although the events were called community consultations, the outcomes were vetted and are again going to be agency driven rather than community driven.