The vast majority of drug treatment services are performing well, according to a national review.

In a report published today by the Healthcare Commission and the National Treatment Agency, 87 per cent of local networks for drug treatment services were rated excellent or good.

The review assessed England's 149 local drug partnerships, where drug treatment is commissioned and managed by primary care trusts, local authorities, the police and the probation service.

Overall, 15 per cent of local drug partnerships were rated as excellent, 72 per cent were good, 13 per cent were fair and none were weak.

More to do

But the review found partnerships needed to do more to:

  • minimise risks of patients overdosing when they return to drugs after detoxification;

  • report data to the National Drug Treatment Monitoring System;

  • commission more residential rehabilitation services. Only 44 per cent of local drug partnerships had increased their funding above the rate of inflation over the last five years, despite a significant national increase in budget for drug treatment generally.

Risk of overdose

Healthcare Commission chief executive Anna Walker said: "It is excellent to see drug treatment providers are serving their diverse local communities well, and that the quality of treatment is of such a high standard.

"Having said that, it is important to note that partnerships still need to ensure the risk of overdose after discharge is assessed and minimised for every patient, and to make sure that residential rehabilitation treatment is available to all who would benefit from it."

This is the last of a series of three annual reviews on substance misuse. The previous two looked at community prescribing and care planning and commissioning and harm reduction.

From better access to higher quality services

National Treatment Agency chief executive Paul Hayes said: "As access to drug treatment services has increased over the last few years, the NTA's priority is to further improve quality.

"The findings of this report will continue to inform the ongoing improvement of drug treatment services to meet the needs of individuals and the communities they are part of."

The NTA will work intensively with the lowest performers from the review, and all partnerships have developed action plans to improve performance.