Substance misuse services better but variable

Drug treatment services are getting better, according to a report today, with the number of people in treatment almost doubling since 1999 and a sharp fall in waiting times. 

But the national review of substance misuse services by the Healthcare Commission and National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse found the quality of services still varied across the country, with some failing to provide an adequate level of care. 

The review found 5 per cent of England’s 149 drug action teams were “excellent” and 23 per cent “good”, while 71 per cent were rated “fair” and 1 per cent “weak”.

The number of people joining treatment programmes increased from 85,000 in 1998-9 to 160,000 in 2004-5, and waiting times fell from an average of 9.1 weeks in 2001 to 2.4 weeks in September 2005.

However, the review found services needed to keep users in treatment for longer and said some were prescribing insufficient doses of methadone to prevent users turning to street drugs.

A national report detailing the overall findings of the review will be published later in the year.


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