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Revised plans for the future development of inpatient addiction services


The Health and Social Care Board today approved revised Inpatient Addiction Services proposals. These have been amended from a 2 site 24 bed model to a 3 site 30 bed Regional Network. The network will have capacity for medically managed detoxification and rehabilitation. These changes were in response to strong consultation responses from service users across the province.

Aidan Murray, Assistant Director of Mental Health and Learning Disability, Health and Social Care Board, said:

“Taking account of the key messages and concerns arising from the recent public consultation, the Health and Social Care Board today agreed revised proposals to develop a 3 site service model, comprising of 30 beds, in line with a regionally agreed and consistent care pathway.

“A series of public meetings and service user workshops highlighted concerns regarding access to services. Namely that any decrease from 4 to 2 sites would effectively limit the opportunity for people in the Western area, who require inpatient addiction treatment to engage with services at what is a particularly vulnerable time in their lives.

“Recognising this and acknowledging best practice guidelines, the plans agreed today reflect these concerns and propose a regional network with addiction treatment services accessible to the whole population of Northern Ireland. This configuration, which will be discussed and agreed with Trusts in coming weeks, will ensure that more consistent and improved services are available for all residents in Northern Ireland.

“The network delivered on the 3 sites will have an enhanced provision in terms of hours of accessibility and the amount of resources dedicated to it.”

The public consultation exercise on Inpatient Addiction Treatment Services ran from 4 October 2013 to 24 January 2014. The purpose of this consultation was to consider how specialist inpatient beds, used for the treatment of those with alcohol and substance misuse, could be better organised to improve the services provided throughout Northern Ireland. During the consultation commissioning staff from the Health and Social Care Board and Public Health Agency heard views from service users, staff, elected representatives, community and voluntary groups and service providers.

Dr Stephen Bergin, Consultant in Public Health Medicine, added:

“In the majority of cases treatment can be safely undertaken within the community (Tier 3) setting, without the need for admission to hospital or a specialist facility. However, our aim is to ensure that, if required, those in need have access to specialist inpatient (Tier 4) services on a seven days/nights per week basis through this new regional model. The current situation, which restricts people in some areas of Northern Ireland from accessing specialist services or where services are unavailable over weekends, is far from ideal.

“Taking account of service user concerns and NICE guidance, the original consultation proposal to focus on detoxification/stabilisation has been revised to a future service model encompassing both detoxification and medically managed rehabilitation functions. This requires the originally proposed 24 beds to be revised to 30 beds.”

The Health and Social Care Board also plans to strengthen locally based, specialist community services, known as Tier 3 services. This is consistent with the vision set out in the Bamford Review, and confirmed in Transforming Your Care, to strengthen community services and decrease reliance upon in-patient based services.