Thursday, February 25, 2010

Making the Case for More Detox Beds

The Northern Echo (UK)

“Massive” shortfall in the number of detox beds available says the private Huntercombe Group's Mick Davies
THERE is still a “massive” shortfall in the number of detox beds available to treat alcoholics in the region, it was claimed last night.

Speaking on the eve of a conference in Durham City about facilities for problem drinkers, Mick Davies, addiction services manager with the private Huntercombe Group, said despite the high demand and extra NHS investment there was still a “massive under-capacity of provision” in terms of inpatient detox beds in the region.

This was despite a report last year that found detox facilities in the North-East have improved in recent years, taking the region from the worst in England to being above average.

Mr Davies, whose organisation runs a 14-bed detox clinic in Sunderland, said despite increasing numbers of people in the region needing treatment, there was still no Government directive to ensure that local health authorities invested in more detox facilities.

While some parts of the North-East are investing heavily in a range of treatment, including detox beds, this is not matched in other parts of the region, he added.

“It varies much more than in drug treatments, yet detox programs are the frontline treatment for people with the most serious alcohol problems,” he said.

Mr Davies said detox was a highly effective treatment that works in most cases and which can be carried out for less than £1,000 per head.

He said there was evidence that some people who would benefit from treatment died on waiting lists before getting treatment.

Kevan Martin, a former alcoholic who set up the North East Regional Alcohol Forum to support problem drinkers trying to give up, praised NHS South of Tyne and Wear for investing £5.6m in alcohol treatment programs, contrasting this with a lack of investment in the rest of the region.

“They have put their money where their mouth is. We would like to see other PCTs in the North-East do the same,” he added.

Today’s conference, which is partly sponsored by NHS South of Tyne and Wear, is called Alcohol Detox: Opening the Door to the Treatment Journey.

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