Targets for keeping drug users in treatment are to be included
in star ratings of primary care and mental health trusts,
writes Maria Ahmed.
The National Treatment Agency’s three-year Treatment
Effectiveness Strategy, to be launched next week, will require
trusts to retain drug users accessing treatment for “at least
12 weeks,” excluding short-term treatment.
Presenting a preview of the strategy, Annette Dale-Perera, NTA
director of quality, said the “massive” drop-out rate
of just over half of drug users in the early part of treatment was
From this year, retention in treatment will be a new quality
indicator to improve on the current 52 per cent retention rate.
Dale-Perera told the all-party parliamentary group on drug
misuse: ““Unless people are kept [in treatment] for at
least three months, there is very little long-term
She said drug users had been particularly marginalised in mental
health services, and called on primary care trusts to take more
responsibility over alcoholism.
“The star ratings will get the health system to sit up and
take notice of this unpopular client group who have previously been
ignored,” she added.
The strategy also sets out targets of maximum three-week target
of waiting times for treatment, and fast access for priority groups
such as pregnant women and offenders. Local investigations will be
required if service users wait longer than six weeks.
All individuals in treatment will be required to have an
identifiable written care plan, with 95 per cent of service users
involved in care plans by March 2008.
A briefing on the strategy can be found at: http://www.nta.nhs.uk