Former patients plead to keep Portsmouth rehab unit open

Claire Holland was a patient at the Baytrees drink and drug rehab unit in Portsmouth
Claire Holland was a patient at the Baytrees drink and drug rehab unit in Portsmouth

Community health day planned to educate residents

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IT HAS been described as a lifeline for people recovering from drink and drug addiction.

And former patients are concerned people could die if the service is cut.

The Baytrees unit in St James’ Hospital, Locksway Road, Milton, has 23 beds for people to stay in and recover from using drink and drugs.

It’s the only NHS centre of its kind in Hampshire and the service is provided by Solent NHS Trust.

But former patients have raised their concerns about its future after Solent lost major funding to run the unit.

Claire Holland, 45, of Gamble Road, North End, stayed in the unit for two weeks earlier this year.

She said: ‘After a good eight years of being at different groups I didn’t think I would get anything from being in Baytrees.

‘But from the moment I entered I had so much time and empathy spent on me.

‘Never in all my life had I felt so cared for and understood.

‘All the staff are supportive and walk alongside you instead of ahead of you.

‘This place was my last port of call and it has saved my life.

‘I don’t want it to go because I want other people to have the support I did.’

Baytrees offers therapies and group and individual counselling sessions to help people recover.

John Thomson, 45, of Landport, was in Baytrees for five weeks.

He said: ‘I’ve had a problem with drinking since I was a teenager – I couldn’t see a way out.

‘But when I went to Baytrees I was given hope, hope to live and actually do things.

‘They have changed my way of thinking and I couldn’t be more grateful.

‘This centre is brilliant and it can’t close.

‘If it does then people will die.

‘I don’t know if the contract wasn’t given because of cost-cutting, but what’s the price of a life?’

Of the 23 Baytrees beds, 11 are block-bought by Hampshire County Council, which means Solent usually has a fixed income for Baytrees for the year.

But now the council has awarded a £41.2m contract for substance misuse services to a different organisation, which means an end to the regular income.

The other 12 beds are used by several other authorities as and when needed.

The transfer of services will take place in July and if regular funding is not found then the service could close.

One patient, 40, of Horndean, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: ‘I had been working all my life and then had a breakdown, which led me to drinking. This can happen to people from all walks of life and that’s important to realise.

The new three-year contract has been given to Inclusion, which is an 
organisation set up by the South Staffordshire and Shropshire NHS Foundation Trust.

Health trust is in talks with other commissioners

THE trust that runs Baytrees says it is still unsure about the unit’s future.

A Solent NHS Trust spokesman said: ‘At this stage it’s too early to understand what the impact on Baytrees may be.

‘We are working with Hampshire County Council and the new provider to understand what requirements it has for the centre.

‘We are also working with Portsmouth City Council which is keen to see how commissioners across Southampton, Portsmouth and wider Hampshire can work together to ensure people are provided with the services they need.’