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The waiting game

'Damning' report into drugs services

A 'damning' new report has

uncovered wide variation in drug treatment services across England, with particular concerns over prescribing of methadone.

The national review found a series of areas where quality

of care varied substantially

and services were 'failing to

deliver the high quality of care needed'.

Only 30 per cent of services prescribed the nationally recommended methadone dose

of at least 60mg, according to the report, by the Healthcare Commission and National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse.

Some services failed to keep patients in treatment long enough to achieve optimum

results, and there were also inconsistencies over use of individual care plans.

Professor Peter Campion, a GP specialist in addictions at the Quays centre in Hull – a treatment centre commended in the report – said he was 'quite concerned' that some centres prescribed methadone doses of less than 40mg.

Professor Campion, who is professor of primary care medicine at the University of Hull, added: 'I hope this report

will stimulate a substantial tightening of standards. There shouldn't be national variation of this kind. It's a very damning finding.'

Dr Phil Brookes, a GP in

Newcastle who works at a

drug addiction unit in Wallsend, north Tyneside, said underprescribing methadone made drug treatment less successful, but that it was important to assess treatment on an individual patient basis.

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