June 30, 2020
Audit Office Report into addiction services – ‘Needs to be a catalyst for change’

Sinn Féin MLA and spokesperson on Mental Health Órlaithí Flynn has called on the Health Minister to prioritise addiction services following the audit office report.

“Everyone needs to remember that the Audit Office report is not just about the statistics and cost effectiveness of addiction services. It is a report into a vital lifeline and means of supporting individuals, families and communities to start to recover from addictions.

“Although addictions can affect every single one of us in society, it is true that some areas are affected more than others. With deaths related to drug and alcohol misuse around four and a half times higher in the most deprived areas compared to the least deprived areas.

“I fully support the Audit Offices call for a joined-up approach to addressing this issue and the ground-breaking work of the West Belfast Drugs Panel in highlighting the areas of cooperation that are needed, in particular how to tackle the stark health inequalities.

“I have continued to press the need for increased investment in addiction services and a renewed focus on how services are planned and delivered. I have already raised this issue at the Public Accounts Committee and will be raising it again at the Health Committee.

“It is unacceptable that such a vital service has consistent problems with data collection and lengthy waiting lists. For those seeking support with an addiction they need help there and then in a timely manner otherwise it risks a potential relapse and discourages help seeking behaviour.

“Sinn Féin has called on the Department of Health to commission a needs analysis to get a better idea of the level of need for services but also how to achieve better outcomes for service users. It also needs to include other addictions such as gambling in future service developments.

“Just last week in the Assembly, I was glad to see cross-party support for my amendment to include reference to addiction services in a mental health motion. It called on the health minister to bring forward a clear detailed plan to support those with addiction and mental ill-health after the covid-19 lockdown.”

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