About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland reports on the waiting times for people accessing drug and alcohol treatment services between 1 October - 31 December 2020. It contains information on the number of people seen for treatment, types of treatment accessed, and length of time waited.

The Scottish Government set a standard that 90% of people referred for help with their drug or alcohol problem will wait no longer than three weeks for treatment that supports their recovery.

Figures presented in this publication exclude referrals received during December 2020 for NHS Ayrshire & Arran, NHS Dumfries & Galloway, NHS Grampian, and NHS Western Isles. This has minimal impact on their performance against standard. Further detail is provided in Background below.

Main points

  • Between 1 October - 31 December 2020, 95.7% of the 8,513 people who started their first drug or alcohol treatment waited 3 weeks or less, an increase from the same quarter in the previous year (94.9%).
Image caption People Starting Drug and Alcohol treatment in Scotland during 1 October to 31 December 2020: Percentage waited 3 weeks or less, by NHS Board
People Starting Drug and Alcohol treatment in Scotland during 1 October to 31 December 2020: Percentage waited 3 weeks or less, by NHS Board

NHS Ayrshire & Arran, NHS Dumfries & Galloway, NHS Grampian and NHS Western Isles performance excludes referrals received in December 2020.

  • Of 4,761 people who started a first alcohol treatment, 96.1% waited 3 weeks or less.
  • Of 3,752 people who started a first drugs treatment, 95.2% waited 3 weeks or less.
  • At the end of the quarter, 1,606 people were waiting to start their first drug or alcohol treatment. Of those waiting 13.3% had waited more than 5 weeks.
  • In prisons, 96.1% of the 667 people who started their first drug or alcohol treatment during the quarter waited 3 weeks or less.
  • The numbers of people whose wait was completed immediately prior to and during the COVID-19 lockdown period reduced by up to half compared with the same period last year. Over the last quarter the number of completed waits increased, with numbers being comparable with previous years.

Background

It should be noted that the statistics released for this reporting period are in part affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This is notable from mid-March and in particular, from 23 March when Scotland entered a period of ‘lockdown’. These measures will have affected the number of referrals, service provision, and delivery of treatment.

The data in this publication are a snapshot of a dynamic database. This means that data for previous quarters may not be the same as found in previous publications for the same time period. Updated data for the most recent quarter are provisional and may be revised in future publications. Please see News and Updates section of our website for more details.

On 1st December 2020 NHS Ayrshire & Arran, NHS Dumfries & Galloway, NHS Grampian, and NHS Western Isles began using the Drug and Alcohol Information System (DAISy), a new national database for Scotland. It is expected that the remaining NHS Boards will transfer to DAISy in April 2021. DAISy holds data in relation to drug and alcohol treatments and waiting times from services throughout Scotland delivering tier 3 and 4 interventions. DAISy replaces the previous systems:

  • Drug & Alcohol Treatment Waiting Times (DATWT)
  • Scottish Drug Misuse Database (SDMD)

In order to allow sufficient time for quality assurance work to be undertaken, data for referrals received during December 2020 for the above 4 NHS Boards has not been included in this publication. Information for October to December will be revised in the next publication which is due to be published in June 2021.

General enquiries

If you have an enquiry relating to this publication, please email phs.datwt@phs.scot.

Media enquiries

If you have a media enquiry relating to this publication, please contact the Communications and Engagement team.

Requesting other formats and reporting issues

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Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 29 June 2021
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