NTA EVADES DEFINITIONS
IN FRAMEWORK FOR UK
The National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse plans to roll out a “new framework document” for the country. Addiction Today will not reveal details in advance – but is already concerned about accountability and outcomes.
The draft framework document starts with its central point: “The NTA will promote vision that recovery from dependency is the foundation of all commissioning and service delivery”.
Sounds promising. But Addiction Recovery Foundation CEO Deirdre Boyd (editor of Addiction Today) asked NTA director of delivery Rosanna O’Connor and central head of delivery Colin Bradbury how the NTA defined “dependency” given that its past use of this word did not conform to DSM-IV or ICD10, the two most widely used diagnostic tools in the world. Bradbury replied that “We do not define dependency, just as we do not define recovery”.
So… the framework for the country is based on: “The NTA will promote vision that [undefined] from [undefined] is the foundation of all commissioning and service delivery”.
So when the NTA claims to get people "free of dependency" in its annual report to parliament and in Guardian advertorial… this has no definition, going by Bradbury and O'Connor's statement.
EXCLUDING THIRD SECTOR AND REHABS?
The next line in the NTA document adds “… both in the community and prison setting”. Boyd asked about the omission of the third-sector, rehabs/quasi-residential/daycare/sessional work, long dedicated to recovery. O’Connor answered that these providers were included under “community”, denying that the word excluded these, as it has traditionally done.
NTA CEO Paul Hayes contradicted this at a southwest regional meeting, disparaging rehabs/voluntary organisations’ outcomes versus community services. For clarification, Boyd requested a script of this speech. The NTA denied it existed, then had to admit Hayes spoke from written notes – which remain unavailable. However, she did have a meeting with O'Connor who said "community" meant any service outside prison, then agreed with Hayes and repeatedly contrasted community and rehabs/similar.
This nation deserves better. Undefined targets mean nothing is accountable – and the general public will again be misled into thinking the NTA is promising ‘normal’ definitions (eg, clinical definition of recovery from dependency).
UK drugs policy must be implemented by a body trusted by the field and by government, with transparency, accountability, effectiveness and goodwill. Will the country get that?