DSC Notice: 01/2009
Date of Issue: January 2009
Sponsoring Organisation: Implementation Date: 01 April 2009
Department of Core Data Set for National Drug
Treatment Monitoring System
Health (NDTMS) v5.3
This DSCN informs users of the approval of changes to an inherited information standard by the
Information Standards Board for Health and Social Care (ISB HaSC) This was approved by ISB
HaSC at its meeting on 23 July 2008.
The burden of collection has been agreed by the Review of Central Returns Steering Committee
(ROCR) - ROCR No: ROCR/OR/0072/002.
This DSCN introduces changes to the core data set for the National Drug Treatment Monitoring
System (NDTMS). This system has been in place for several years and the primary purpose of this
DSCN is to ensure that the latest version is available to the service and its IT system suppliers.
The current version of the core data set for NDTMS is version 5.3. The core data set, together with
human and technical guidance can be accessed at
This DSCN is limited to the definition of the patient data that is collected and submitted to the
NDTMS though the NDTMS web-portal.
This DSCN is relevant for all software suppliers who produce software that is used to collect and
submit the NDTMS data-set within primary and mental health trust substance misuse services. The
standard is also relevant to suppliers with systems used by criminal justice and 3rd sector structured
drug treatment providers.
Trusts setting up or developing information systems to support substance misuse services will need
to have the NDTMS data-standard embedded within their systems either directly, or as a set of
derivable data from existing data collected on clinical information systems.
The NDTMS data standard is not currently aligned with the NHS Data Model and Dictionary.
The purpose of this notice is to bring LSP service providers and suppliers of clinical information
systems to the mental health and primary care sectors, who currently collect the NDTMS data set, in
line with the requirements placed on clinical services to submit data to the NDTMS. These
requirements applied from 1 April 2008, are largely already complied with. This notice is unlikely to
have a significant impact on data collection by the clinical services or their commissioners.
Clinical software suppliers with system used to collect NDTMS data from substance misuse clinical
services, including LSPs, are required to implement these changes by April 2009.
Further information about ISB HaSC can be found at www.isb.nhs.uk
Data Set Change Notices can be found at www.connectingforhealth.nhs.uk/dscn
Datasets / return affected:
National Drug Treatment Monitoring System (NDTMS) (version 5.3)
19/2001: National Drugs Treatment Monitoring System (NDTMS) [Previously the Regional Drug
Misuse Database (RDMD) System]
Impact of Change:
Service: Minor System Suppliers: Minor
The Information Standards Board for Health and Social Care (ISB HaSC) is responsible for approving
information standards. Submission documents and the ISB HaSC Board output relating to the approval of this
standard can be found at: www.isb.nhs.uk/docs/ndtmcds.
DSCN 01/2009 Page 2 of 6
DATA SET CHANGE NOTICE
Reference No: ROCR/OR/0072/002
Version No: 1.4
Subject: Core Data Set for National Drug Treatment Monitoring v5.3
Type of Change: Change to an approved information standard
Implementation Date: April 2009
Business Justification: Required to support the collection of Treatment Outcome
Profile (TOP) data through the National Drug Treatment
Monitoring System (NDTMS).
Effect on other Information None
The NDTMS core data set supports the operation of the National Drug Treatment Monitoring System.
This system collects and reports on drug treatment activity data within a wide range of settings,
including primary and secondary care within the NHS, the criminal justice sector and the third sector
(voluntary agencies). The reporting is provided back to the public through routine publication of
national statistics and performance management information to commissioners, performance
managers, regulatory bodies, national, regional, and local government etc. The need for this data is
to ensure that drug treatment services are performance managed effectively, and to enable policy
makers to quantify the effect of drug treatment across a range of individual and public health areas.
The change to the information standard will affect the working practices of clinical and administrative
staff working in organisations treating individuals for problematic drug misuse. This change is
because the Treatment Outcome Profile requires clinical services to collect routine client data in a
This DSCN introduces additional data elements to the core data set, makes minor changes to the
reference values (code sets) for some existing data elements, revises names and extends PCT
coverage, and corrects spelling errors.
All treatment services proving NHS commissioned treatment should already be submitting files using
version 5.3. The impact on clinical practice arising from this notice is therefore unlikely to be
Much of the data currently recorded by clinical services and submitted centrally is collected through
services entering activity data onto NTA supplied web browser systems or on stand alone clinical
packages. The impact of this notice is therefore more significant where trusts are seeking to integrate
clinical record by the substance misuse team into a trust wide clinical information system. This DSCN
will therefore apply to LSP providers.
Software suppliers that are not currently compliant with version 5.3 should implement the changes
specified here by the 1 April 2009.
The changes will also affect Regional data-base centres, which are normally housed within Public
Health Observatories (PHOs). This change will require them to be capable of providing new forms of
DSCN 01/2009 Page 3 of 6
Commissioners will need to ensure that commissioner’s annual treatment plans have adequate
resourcing built into services annual budgets to ensure that migration to the new standard can be
achieved within the required timescales.
Core data collected as part of the National Drug Treatment Monitoring System (NDTMS) is used to
measure progress against the PSA, NHS LDP delivery and for HCC performance indicator
assessment. The standard will be used by suppliers of interconnected systems to specify reports and
NDTMS data is provided by approximately 1700 drug and alcohol treatment providers in England.
The majority of the data (about 2/3) is supplied by clinical information systems maintained by larger
treatment providers (e.g. Mental Health Trusts and national Voluntary Sector organisations). The key
policy driver behind the NDTMS arises from the need to monitor the overarching national drug
strategy target for drug treatment (PSA 25)
The data set is used to provide data that underpins the following:
• Monitoring central government drug strategy targets (PSA 25)
• Drug Treatment Commissioning
• Supporting a tier 2 indicator from Vital Signs.
• Health Care Commission (HCC) Annual Health Check (PCTs and MHT’s)
• HCC Improvement Reviews
• Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) Performance Indicators (A80)
• Publication of National Statistics (ONS)
• Support the production of European statistics (EMCDDA)
• Policy Development within government departments.
• Performance management (National Treatment Agency, Government Office of the
Regions, Primary care trusts, Local Authorities)
• Regional Public Health monitoring (PHOs).
• Academic Research
Details of Change
This DSCN covers the changes in the standard published by the NTA between versions 4.1 and 5.3.
A full list of the new data items can be found in the revision table in the front of the technical
definitions of the data set (available from:
http://www.nta.nhs.uk/areas/ndtms/core_data_set_page.aspx. A summary of the changes are:
Treatment Outcomes Profile
Treatment Outcomes Profile (TOP) to be used at the start of treatment and in care plan reviews and
reported through the NDTMS.
Up to now the NTA has used process and proxy outcome measures (e.g. waiting times and retention)
to indicate the effectiveness of drug treatment. The Agency, treatment providers and commissioners
have shared a long-term goal to establish real outcomes monitoring systems and are committed to
their continuing development.
Drug treatment outcomes in the UK are grouped into four key domains:
• Drug and alcohol use
• Physical and psychological health
• Social functioning
• Offending and criminal involvement.
DSCN 01/2009 Page 4 of 6
Other less significant changes made between 4.1 and v5.3 are:
• Redefinition of Client Reference Field to exclude any use of client identifiers
• Change maximum value for number of days in the ‘month’ from 30 days to 28 days for all
relevant fields in data-set
• Amends to PCT name values as required
• Inclusion of Scottish PCT codes.
• Revised Young Persons services discharge codes.
• Frequency of use of Problem Substance No 1
• Remove Employment Status field.
The responsibility for implementation of the changes rests with the organisations that are
commissioned to provide structured drug treatment.
Suppliers wishing to comply with this standard should supply a test file for verification to the NTA
before 1 April 2009.
Any implication for patient safety is likely to relate to a localities annual allocation from the pooled
treatment budget. These are calculated using the activity recorded through collection of data using
this standard through the NDTMS. Non compliance is likely to result in a loss of funding to the
commissioners of the service, and therefore place users of the service at risk.
Commissioners will need to ensure that annual treatment plans have adequate resourcing built into
services annual budgets to ensure that migration to the new standard can be achieved within the
required timescales. The revised standard, together with human and technical guidance etc can be
accessed at: http://www.nta.nhs.uk/areas/ndtms/core_data_set_page.aspx
Notes for Suppliers wanting to develop NDTMS upload Interface.
This DSCN applies to systems being used by clinical services to submit activity data to the National
Drug Treatment Monitoring System. Any providers developing or setting up a substance misuse
service will need to ensure that the standard is built into the specification of clinical and/or
Data delivery to the NDTMS is though a monthly submission of an activity data file to the NDTMS
web portal by the clinical service. Suppliers of systems that wish to develop and test the interface to
the NDTMS should contact the NTA at NDTMSProgrammecoordinator@nta-nhs.org.uk in the first
Effects on Other Information Standards
Head of Drugs and Alcohol Policy
Health Improvement Directorate
(National Programme Delivery)
Department of Health
Wellington House, London.
Further Information and Support
Fur further information relating to the technical specification and user guidance for the standard,
please see here.http://www.nta.nhs.uk/areas/ndtms/core_data_set_page.aspx Further information for
suppliers, including supplier test scenarios for versions 4.X and 5.X of the standard please see here
DSCN 01/2009 Page 5 of 6
For further information contact Malcolm Roxburgh at Malcolm.Roxburgh@nta-nhs.org.uk or 0207 261
Health and Social
FR AM EWORK Organisation IT Suppliers
Effective Date 01/08/07 01/03/09
Collection Start 01/04/08 01/04/09
Implementation First Submission 01/05/08 01/05/09
Reporting Period Monthly – exact dates set by regional teams
Conformance Date 01/04/08 01/07/09
“must be used effectively and
assessed for use”
Superseded Date (of prior standard) 01/04/10 01/04/10
“stop using prior standard”
Note: This DSCN applies to suppliers of systems used to record clinical data relating to substance
misuse treatment. This will include most mental health trust systems, and some primary care
DSCN 01/2009 Page 6 of 6