Oct 3 2012 by ContentWatchImporter, Dumfries Standard Wednesday
Dumfries and Galloway NHS exceeds targets
HEALTH services in the region have exceeded government targets for treating people with drug and alcohol problems.
Public Health Minister Michael Matheson said NHS Dumfries and Galloway had “performed to an excellent level”.
Service providers were given an objective over the last year to treat 90 per cent of drug addicts within three weeks of being seen – which they are close to reaching despite the deadline being nine months away.
South of Scotland MSP Dr Aileen McLeod welcomed the news.
She said: “These figures show that NHS Dumfries and Galloway is well on course to meet that target by next March, which is a testament to the hard work of NHS staff and the Scottish Government.
“I must also pay tribute to the work undertaken by alcohol and drugs partnerships, health boards, charitable organisations, volunteers and families in helping support people in recovery.
“With that assistance, thousands of people have been able to tackle their addiction sooner than was previously possible.”
All NHS boards throughout Scotland are expected to meet the government’s Health Improvement, Efficiency, Access and Treatment (HEAT) measures – introduced to ensure everyone has access to the same levels of healthcare.
NHS Dumfries and Galloway was also given a HEAT target to deliver a minimum of 1,629 Alcohol Brief Interventions (ABI) – designed to help patients who report drinking at levels which may cause alcohol-related problems. The service surpassed this number by delivering 2,337 interventions in the past year.
Health board chief executive Jeff Ace said: “An extensive range of activity has been undertaken across NHS Dumfries and Galloway aimed at improving the quality of patient care and patient safety for all our patients.
“Our investment in healthcare facilities has also continued apace and we look forward to many of these developments improving the lives of our local patients.”
Mark Frankland, education manager at the First Base charity in Buccleuch Street, Dumfries, welcomed the figures but suggested other factors contributed to targets being met.
He said: “I think there has been a massive improvement in treatment over the last few years. Five years ago, it wasn’t rare for someone to wait nine months for treatment for heroin addiction – so this is a huge reduction.
“However what this also shows is that the number of people addicted has drastically fallen, meaning the NHS has less potential customers.
“The biggest task now is for services to be redesigned as Valium is now the biggest problem, not heroin.
“And the amount of ABIs carried out is indicative of the genuine and huge extent of alcohol-related problems – especially among the over-65s, who are more likely to accept an intervention.”