IS THE NTA FIT FOR PURPOSE?
REHABS CLOSE AS PATIENTS ARE DIRECTED ELSEWHERE
The general public as well as some dedicated specialists do not need convincing of the need for people who are addicted to drugs to become drug free. They see it in the newspapers and, too often, in the lives of those they love. But people are being diverted and demotivated from the opportunity of drug-free treatment at their most vulnerable point: when they seek help.
Government funding for ‘treatment’ is via the National Treatment Agency for Substance Abuse, the NHS special health authority with responsibility for overseeing the UK’s national drug policy. The NTA implements drug policy via 149 Drug Action Teams. Last year, only 3.6% of the patients seeking help from them were given the opportunity of abstinence-based treatment. This year so far, the figure seems to be dying at 2%.
There are waiting lists of people desperate for help and empty beds in rehabs waiting to treat them. Instead, lack of patient referrals also means that the life-saving rehabs are closing. Those which remain cannot plan ahead, to assess patient requirements or staff needs, and thus forward financial planning.
Medically invested DATs (with a handful of worthy exceptions) and Primary Care Trusts are diverting people to methadone maintenance and other harm reduction. Fine for some, if this is seen as engagement, with appropriate psychosocial support including accurate assessment and diagnosis, and an eventual goal of abstinence. Unfortunately, bad practice dominates with people treated as statistical units to serve political targets. As research to be published in Addiction Research & Theory next year evidences, patients get an average of only four hours of meaningful therapeutic activity per year.
Research shows that the vast majority of patients in rehab need experiential and cognitive support to recover from childhood abuse issues, which their use of drugs (including alcohol) buffered. Four hours of therapy a year ain’t going to fix these.
In addition, Addiction Today has heard that just about all of the £54.6million capital funding which the government stated was for ‘tier 4’ (rehab) organisations was awarded by the NTA to Primary Care Trusts instead. We invite the NTA to supply us with the figures for which, if any, rehabs gained from this, and the amounts.
Finally – for the moment – does the general public know how the NTA defines "treatment"? It can be one meeting. "12 weeks retention" in "treatment" can mean that someone needing help to claim back their lives has one meeting then, as the DAT makes them wait 12 weeks for the next one… yes, you got it… 12 weeks retention. We have even heard of a couple of people going to prison yet staying on the statisics as "retention".
REHABS CLOSING – LATEST COUNT
· Why are DATs not referring patients appropriately to alcohol- and drug-free treatment?
· Why is the NTA ignoring research evidence of rehabs’ effectiveness?
· Why are the successful results of abstinence-based organisations not being published by the NDTMS?
· Why has the NTA spent our taxes on a leaflet supporting a redefinition of “recovery” which excludes sobriety or drug-free lifestyles?
Answers, please, before more people die from lack of appropriate treatment!
- Thurston House, London, is scheduled to close in December
- Pierpoint Women’s Unit, Lancashire
- Two Saints, Hampshire
- Phoenix Futures London Residential Service
- Priory Farm Place, Surrey
- Priory Coach House (extended care)
- Barleywood, Somerset
- Murray Lodge, Coventry
- Hebron House Women & Baby Unit (women’s unit still here)
- Phoenix Bexhill
- Isham House has stopped treating addictions patients
- Diana Princess of Wales Hospital, Norfolk, is in administration.
Both Paul Hayes, CEO of the National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse, and Nick Lawrence, head of alcohol, drug and tobacco policy at the Department of Health, are on record as stating that Drug Action Teams should be referring 10% of patients to rehab. But not even a third of this target is being reached; indeed, it could be calculated that not even 2% of patients are in rehab on any given day.