£570MILLION – BUT NOT FOR DRUG STRATEGY GOAL
"The longer he is in Downing Street, the more aware the prime minister is becoming of the forces that can thwart progress… every attempt at reform has to fight its way past vested interests and the forces of bureaucratic inertia," James Forsyth of The Spectator and Daily Mail recently noted. This coalition government's humane goal of getting addicts off drugs in its first Drug Strategy is no exception.
On Friday, the National Treatment Agency for Substance Abuse sent a press release to treatment commissioners, saying how much they will get in 2011-12 from a £570million budget for community and prison drug treatment services – but throughout the press release and accompanying three-page letter from NTA CEO Paul Hayes, there was not one recommendation that they use the funds for the coalition government's reasonable goal of getting addicts drug-free.
There is mention of "recovery", but the NTA does not define recovery, leaving it meaningless for those commissioners spending the pot of money.
It does mention people leaving treatment successfully – but how is that defined? Does it mean those classified this way in NTA annual reports who actually died? Does it mean patients who have been years on methadone must vomit blood, break their clavicles and limbs or have a stroke before they "successfully exit" their substitute drugs and are sent to rehab?
“I believe the sum is sufficient to enable the field to deliver the transformative change set out in the Drug Strategy and ensure that 2011-12 is the year of transition to a recovery-focused treatment system.” said Hayes. We agree that the sum is sufficient – but again note no mention of the government's goal.
""The fact that the prime minister has to devote such attention to checking his instructions are followed across Whitehall does suggest that parts of the Civil Service are forgetting that its role is to implement government policy," Forsyth concludes.