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‘Dramatic upheaval will boost drug use’

09 February, 2018 — By Emily Finch

HELP for people with drug and alcohol addictions is facing a “dramatic upheaval” after a £1.1million Town Hall cut in funding for services.

Despite the slashed funding, the new sole provider, Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust, promises services will be better than before when it takes over management in April.

But relatives who have family members with substance addiction say they are worried about the impact of the changes.

“People have started using heroin again as they are so stressed,” said one close friend of a patient. “These are good people but they are vulnerable.”

She added: “The current system has been established over the last 15 years. This is going to be a dramatic upheaval. This instability will have an impact on drug use.”

Another relative of a service user was concerned that recovering addicts would have less access to specialist drug nurses, adding: “I’m worried there won’t be enough nurses, and people with addictions will have to go to centres. At the moment, going to a GP surgery is anonymous. You go like everybody else and I worry we are going to lose that.”

There are around 2,000 drug and alcohol service users in Islington, who access a wide range of treatments, including psychological therapies and harm-reduction advice.

Following a tendering process, the Town Hall awarded the five-year contract, worth £23.7m, to Camden and Islington NHS Trust last November, turning what was formerly nine contracts into just one.

The NHS trust will link up with two charities – Westminster Drug Project and Blenheim – to help treat users in the borough.

Camden and Islington NHS Trust senior manager Peter Kane said: “Nationally, people do not recover very well in GP surgeries. Our new model will be using recovery peers to go into GP surgeries to work with our nurses and to encourage people to use the recovery hubs.

“We will also be supplying a consultant psychiatrist who will be available to speak to doctors and nurses in the GP surgery. There will be quicker and better access to psychiatric assessments.”

Mr Kane could not confirm how many fewer specialist nurses there would be until a consultation process was completed on February 18.

A trust spokeswoman said most services would run from the same buildings on April 1. It hopes to launch advice centres in community organisations, including mosques, to make services available to people who would previously have not accessed them.

An Islington Council spokesman said: “The savings include money no longer being spent on duplication. For example, staff time and resources will no longer be wasted on repeat assessments with the same service user as they move between different services.”

Anyone with concerns is invited to a trust information session at the Town Hall, committee room 1, from 6pm to 7pm on February 28.

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