Date Published: 27 September 2006

Improving support for substance misusers in Scotland

Health News from Scotland

The first set of national quality standards for substance misuse services in Scotland will be launched today.

The standards were developed by a steering group of representatives from drug and alcohol services, service commissioners and regulatory bodies and will aim to:

  • Improve consistency in the quality of services being provided across the country by providing a benchmark for the level of quality to be reached, and giving a basis for sharing information on best practice.
  • Provide information to those using these services on what they can expect from their service provider and what will be expected of them in turn to support their recovery.
  • Support all those involved in tackling substance misuse in further developing policy in this area and in taking informed funding decisions.

The need to safeguard the interests of children in substance misusing families is also a central element of the standards. For example the standards make clear that where appropriate, information will be shared with other services. And it will be made clear when this may be done without the permission of service users.

Deputy Justice Minister Hugh Henry said:

" People who are misusing drugs or alcohol can have a range of very different needs. These new standards are designed to ensure that across Scotland, everyone involved in providing those services, from intensive programmes in residential settings to less formal community-based support - does so to a consistently high standard.

_ The standards will also ensure that service users know what sort of help to expect. And in turn what their responsibilities will be during their treatment and beyond to contribute towards their own recovery, get their lives back on track and avoid similar problems in the future.

_ By bringing order to their chaotic lives, we will not only help those with substance misuse problems but also improve the lives of those around them - their family and friends - and local communities who may be suffering from the impact of drug-related crime."

Deputy Health Minister Lewis Macdonald said:

" These new standards will help all those involved in tackling substance misuse - in the statutory, independent and voluntary sectors - to continue to drive up the quality of care provided in this challenging field.

_ Crucially, they also recognise that many people requiring and receiving this help have children who themselves must be given appropriate support and protection by all the relevant local agencies during this difficult time. And that this will require information to be shared with other services to safeguard the interests of each child.

_ In the longer term these standards will become part of a robust monitoring and evaluation framework which will support those providing, funding and developing these services to take informed decisions on what programmes are most effective and delivering good value for the public purse."

Tom Wood, chair of the Scottish Association of Alcohol and Drug Action Teams said:

" This is a vital step to ensure high standards, the best outcomes and best value."


The standards were developed by a steering group with representatives from drug and alcohol services, service commissioners and regulatory bodies, with further input from Alcohol and Drug Action Teams, voluntary organisation, NHS Boards, local authorities and individuals. Eleven overarching standards were formed building on the principles behind the National Care Standards, produced by the Executive to support the Regulation of Care (Scotland) Act 2001.

This means that each standard has been developed from what each individual person can expect from the service provider and what will be expected of them.

Child protection and information sharing are also central to the standards. Successful implementation depends on the key actions identified in 'Hidden Harm - Next Steps' and in 'Getting it Right for Every Child' so that agencies quickly identify the needs of vulnerable children for whom they have responsibility, and provide appropriate, integrated and timely support.

The standards form the first stage of a framework that will be developed to improve the quality and consistency of treatment and support for substance misusers. The next stage in the process, building on the pilot projects conducted during the consultation on the draft standards, is to develop an evaluation tool which allows services to monitor improvements in their delivery of support and provide evidence of good practice.

Source: Scottish Executive (Scotland).

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