We undertook a postal questionnaire survey of drug action teams in England and Wales with the aim of clarifying the nature of statutory specialist drug services.
Of 159 drug action teams, 110 (69%) responded; 64 (58%) reported that mental health trusts exclusively provided their specialist drug services. Other providers were primary care and acute trusts, the non-statutory sector and social services. The majority of medical leads were psychiatrists (123 senior posts with 20% vacant/occupied by a locum), then general practitioners (GPs) (42) and other specialists (4).
Specialist drug services are offered by a range of treatment providers, with the medical lead being taken by GPs and other specialists in some areas. In view of the current difficulty in recruiting psychiatrists, we propose that alternative training pathways are considered for addiction specialists.
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