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Derry's Northlands addiction clinic could be forced to 'close doors within year'

By Donna Deeney

Published 03/06/2016

Major crisis: Denis Bradley
Major crisis: Denis Bradley

An addiction treatment facility appointed by the Department of Health as its Regional Centre will close within a year if government funding isn't found.

The Northlands addiction treatment centre, which first opened 40 years ago in Londonderry, was designated as one of two drug and alcohol addiction treatment centres approved for funding after a review carried out in 2014.

Northlands received £500,000 each year from the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) to operate its eight-bed facility and £200,000 directly from the Department of Health.

Last year the centre directors were told by the Health Department that its contribution was going to be phased out over three years, but the HSCB said it would make up the shortfall.

Denis Bradley, a director and founding member of Northlands, addressed a public meeting in Derry last night where he warned the centre was now in a major financial crisis and would close within a year.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Mr Bradley said: "The HSCB commissioned a review of all of its addiction services provision around a year and a half ago and Northlands was made its Regional Centre for which they would provide the funding.

"Later we were notified by the Department of Health that it was going to phase out its funding over three years, but we were not worried because the HSCB promised it would supply all the necessary funding.

"For the total funding of £700,000, Northlands provide addiction treatment to 600 people in a non-residential capacity, 60 people in a residential capacity and 100 family support places, so they have been getting very good value for their money from us.

"A few months ago things started to go wrong and suddenly no one was able to tell us exactly what was happening, only that the HSCB said 'we are being done away with so we can't keep our promise' so the whole thing is up in the air.

"I have tried so hard to get this sorted. I have written to them, lobbied and walked the corridors to meetings but the last meeting I had with officials from the Health Department I was told by them that they don't know what is happening.

"The situation is so bad that really we have the money to keep the Northlands operating for a year and I don't know what else to do.

"After that we will have no choice but to close our doors and I have serious fears for what will happen then because we have a major crisis with the numbers of people with drug and alcohol addictions.

"The number of people with drug and alcohol addiction has reached crisis level and is costing £900,000 every year from GPs to hospitals to prisons but addiction isn't high enough up the agenda in the Department."

The Department of Health did not comment.

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