§ Paul Flynn
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what was the average waiting time for treatment for drug addicts in(a) the last 12 months and (b) each of the previous five years. 
§ Ms Blears
I apologise to my hon. Friend for the delay in responding to this question. I refer him to the reply that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State gave my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, North and Fleetwood (Mrs. Humble) on 5 March 2002,Official Report, column 192W.
We do not hold figures for the years in question.
However, the National Treatment Agency (NTA) set targets for waiting times in December 2001 (see table) and asked Drug Action Teams (DATS) to notify the NTA of their current situation and the targets they are setting for this year. NTA regional managers will be working with DATS to identify a realistic workplan for them to achieve the targets over the next two years. The NTA is planning to initiate work with the NHS modernisation agency to work with the worst performers to identify shortcomings in their systems, structures and approach which are inhibiting improvement.
The NTA will be issuing guidance in March 2002 to all DATs on setting maximum waiting times for services for 2002–03.1149W
Average baseline waiting time (weeks) 1999–20001 NTA Maximum waiting times (weeks) 2002–03 NTA Maximum waiting times (weeks) 2003–04 In-patient detox 6.1 4 2 Community prescribing—specialist 10.2 6 3 Community prescribing—GPs 5 4 2 Structured counselling 4 4 2 Structured day care programme 3.3 4 3 Residential rehab 5.4 4 3 1 Based on average waiting times reported by DATs in 1999–2000 annual reports.
1 week = five working days.