THE manager of a residential detox unit which faces closure said the decision to shut it had left her in despair.
Baytrees, a 23-bed unit at St James’ Hospital, Milton, Portsmouth, is one of only three in the south of England that offer such care and one of only two in the country where people can detox from addictions to legal highs such as Spice.
This is a fantastic facility and I’m going to try my best to keep it openFlick Drummond
But due to falling numbers of in-patients, Solent NHS Trust, which provides the service, says it is losing £450,000 a year and has no choice but to close it on May 16.
Yesterday Portsmouth South MP Flick Drummond held an emergency meeting with staff, patients and Solent NHS Trust to thrash out ideas to save the facility, which has only five in-patients.
She said her concern was that GPs were not referring patients to the unit in the first place.
‘It is an acute problem’, said Mrs Drummond.
‘We have 9,000 people dependent on alcohol, let alone all the people dependent on drugs as well.
‘This is a fantastic facility and I’m going to try my best to keep it open.’
One of the ideas put forward by a member of staff was making Baytrees an A&E detox unit.
Many drug and alcohol-dependent patients who fall ill go to Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham, are given a fast detox and must then leave.
If they were taken to an A&E unit at Baytrees, they could stay there for full detox treatment before being referred for rehabilitation.
Another idea was to try to access funding from mental health services because addiction and mental health are so closely interlinked.
Karen Morris, the service manager at Baytrees said: ‘Although I knew it was coming, when I got the date through for the closure the overwhelming feeling was despair.
‘We know that Baytrees saves lives. We know there are other options, like home detox, but they don’t actually do the job Baytrees does.
‘People need to be alive in order to be able to continue through their recovery.’
Matthew Hall, operations manager for Portsmouth at Solent NHS Trust, said the problems began when patients were given the choice of where to be treated.
Patients no longer have to be treated in the city or town where they live. He said Baytrees had been widely marketed across the country.
In order to balance the books, Baytrees must have at least 17 of the 23 beds used at all times. Staffing was the biggest cost and that had been cut to the bare minimum.
Mr Hall added: ‘We have all tried exceptionally hard over the past year to market our unit to keep it open, but there just hasn’t been sufficient demand for the model of care we provide at Baytrees – even for people willing to pay privately for their care and treatment.
‘Although we have cast our net wider taking in patients from across the south of England, the numbers of people being admitted to the unit has still fallen considerably and the unit is usually now less than half full.’