A newly formed alliance of drug rehabilitation providers has accused primary care trusts of “strangling at birth” plans to tackle addiction and reduce crime.

More than 40 residential rehab providers last week announced they were forming a “watchdog to police the decisions of local drug and alcohol commissioners”.

The government last year said it would increasingly prioritise abstinence-based recovery services over maintaining addiction through treatments such as the prescription of methadone.

The group, which is described as “the concordat”, says primary care trusts – which are responsible for commissioning the services – are not giving them the necessary investment.

Wendy Dawson, chief executive of charity and provider Ley Community, a member of the concordat group, said: “The drug and alcohol recovery strategy is vital to the health and welfare of the nation, but it is at risk of being strangled at birth because some central and local civil servants are ignoring government policy.

“The watchdog will seek to ensure local people and taxpayers are not let down, and commissioning of proper recovery is not stifled… We have come together to launch this watchdog because no-one – neither government nor national bodies – are doing anything to ensure this vital life-saving, efficient and crime preventing strategy is implemented on the ground.”

HSJ online reported in April, when responsibility for the services transferred from the Ministry of Justice to primary care trusts, that some were confused about the role.

A Department of Health spokesman said: “We are devolving power to local areas so that they can take effective action to meet the needs of their local population, and we are creating Public Health England, which will support them in delivering better services.

“We are working with eight local areas to pilot payment-by-results for drugs recovery so that providers only get paid if they deliver positive outcomes.”