The National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse has vehemently
denied rumours that its future could be in jeopardy.
Rumours about the NTA came to light in a document released by
Alcohol Concern, in response to last month’s alcohol harm reduction
strategy, which claimed that the NTAwas under review.
The document said: “Rumour ranges from the confident assertion that
the NTA is not long for this world, that it is about to be absorbed
into the Home Office, or that it will remain as it is.”
It added that the NTA had always said that it would take on more
responsibility for alcohol if offered sufficient resources.
However, the alcohol harm reduction strategy had not given
responsibility for the performance management of its alcohol
treatment services to the NTA, despite mentioning the agency.
“We expect that the ultimate decision as to whether NTA takes
[responsibility for] alcohol more fully will fall out from the more
general review of the NTA,” the Alcohol Concern document
The NTA has since contacted Alcohol Concern, which has now removed
many of the relevant comments from the document on its
The NTA insisted that no review was being carried out, but
acknowledged that the prime minister’s strategy unit was looking at
drugs policy overall, including the NTA. Eric Appleby, chief
executive of Alcohol Concern, said that there had been “persistent
rumours” that the NTA had been under review.
“From our perspective, what’s crucial is to get some clarity about
the NTA’s role regarding alcohol so that we can get on with the
business of helping people with drink problems and end the
uncertainty that has been blighting alcohol services at local and
national level,” he said.
The government created the NTA in 2001 as the first body to oversee
the development of drug treatment services at an England-wide
Its aim is to double the number of people in effective treatment
from 100,000 in 1998 to 200,000 in 2008 and to improve the
availability and effectiveness of drug misuse treatment.