June 4, 2020
Addiction services face barriers to reopening when needed most – Flynn

Sinn Féin MLA Órlaithí Flynn has raised concerns that inpatient addiction units may face challenges to reopening, including around ensuring social distancing and safe staffing to meet rising levels of need.

The party spokesperson on mental health and addiction said:

“The Department of Health’s response to my written questions, has confirmed that the inpatient units will reopen in a phased way. 

“The units will need to take account of social distancing, and concerns around infection control for those with compromised immune systems.

“The public health restrictions have had a considerable impact on society, but it has had a particularly detrimental impact on those seeking treatment and support.

“The true scale of this crisis is hard to quantify but at an evidence session to the Assembly Health committee, many of the addiction charities echoed the need to see a rapid restoration of services to meet a growing demand.

“This raises serious concerns about the immediate capacity of inpatients services to support those seeking help when they need it most.

“The reduction in services is also mirrored in community services with the Department of Health confirming that the supervised opioid substitution treatment within community pharmacies is still being reviewed, but is still not operational.

“As part of the Health Department’s response to addressing the impact of COVID19 on addiction services the Minister for Health should publish a new drugs and alcohol strategy and provide greater investment into wider addiction services.”

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