Is NHS guidance on substance misuse fit for purpose?

Hamilton, I. Mental Elf Blog | Published online: 25 November 2016

2007 was the last time the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE, 2007) published guidance on psychosocial interventions for substance misuse.

A recent review by the NICE project team concluded that:

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Image Source: The Mental Elf Blog

So is guidance published a decade ago fit for purpose in 2016? First it’s important to consider what’s happened with drug use and which drugs people have developed problems with. Back in 2007, opiates such as heroin accounted for the majority of new treatment presentations, but since then cannabis has become the main drug that people present with.

Summary: When reviewing their guidance, the teams at NICE invite individuals and organisations to submit comments and evidence. The consultation for this review attracted only two stakeholder contributions, but one notable stakeholder did disagree with the NICE decision not to update the guidance: Public Health England.

The overall lack of engagement with NICE on its consultation could be a reflection on the state of the treatment sector. Most drug treatment providers and the specialist staff working in them are subject to frequent retendering exercises. The sector has faced savage cuts in the last decade which have resulted in a rapid turnover of providers and staff. An environment that doesn’t lend itself to engaging with NICE on treatment guidance when survival is the priority.

Read the full blog post here

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