WHAT CAN WE EXPECT IN 2008?
by Paul Hayes, chief executive of the National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse, which oversees implementation of the government drugs strategy across England and Wales.
The consensus that ‘treatment works’ is being overtly challenged in the media for the first time in many years. This is in part a reflection of a shift in thinking in some political and academic circles to support an increasingly abstinence-focused system. The NTA believes the evidence supports a treatment system which balances the immediate benefits to individuals and communities of maintenance and harm reduction, with the long- term benefits of recovery from dependency and treatment completion.
Those of us involved in the shaping, commissioning and delivery of treatment, including service users and carers, need to be involved in this public debate.
The body of evidence that treatment works and delivers value for service users and communities is powerful. We must convince the public that money spent on drug treatment is money well spent.
Underpinning this debate will be a dramatic improvement in our ability to understand and report individuals’ progress in treatment, through the Treatment Outcomes Profile which was launched last year. With this, commissioners, providers, policy-makers and the public will be able to gauge the impact of treatment on their outcomes. This will be particularly influential in shaping the effectiveness and quality of treatment in the future.
GREAT EXPECTATIONS AND VALUE FOR MONEY.
The unprecedented annual increases in resources experienced since 2001 have probably come to an end. A number of partnerships and providers will need to meet increasing expectations with the same – or fewer – resources.
The NTA development of Unit Costs for treatment allied to the Treatment Outcome Profile will need to underpin the delivery of high-quality cost-effective treatment in the future.
The provision of treatment in prison has too often lagged behind treatment in the community. In 2008, there must be a significant improvement in the quality and availability of treatment across the prison estate.
Delivering effective treatment, which meets the needs of service users and has the confidence of the public, demands skilled, trained and competent staff and managers.
The NTA will continue to work with providers and commissioners to ensure that the expectations placed on staff do not exceed their competence to deliver.
All three articles first appeared in Addiction Today journal, issue 110.
Has Paul Hayes succeeded? Click here for situation as at September 2008.