Portsmouth council leader vows to look into rehab unit

Portsmouth City Council leader Donna Jones
Portsmouth City Council leader Donna Jones
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THE leader of Portsmouth City Council has expressed concern that patients will have to go further away for treatment if an NHS drug rehabilitation unit closes.

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

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

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

But the council has awarded a £41.2m contract for substance misuse services to a different organisation, meaning a regular source of income will no longer be coming in from July this year.

The other 12 beds are used by several other authorities as and when needed, which includes the city council.

Its leader Donna Jones said: ‘I’m disappointed with the outcome of Hampshire’s contract review, but it appears the new provider is saying they could do it cheaper.

‘Money is very tight across all councils and the county has had to save more than £100m this year.

‘My only concern is sending people further away from home when they are already very vulnerable and need help and support may save money, but not necessarily achieve increased outcomes for a reduction in relapses.

‘Following this news I have requested a brief with our commissioning team so I can fully understand the implications of the rehab beds allocated to Portsmouth. I will be working with Solent to put them in contact with other councils across the UK who may have a need which they could fulfil.’

The jobs of about 120 staff across Hampshire are at risk as part of the change.

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

County council says it will work with NHS

HAMPSHIRE County Council says it will work with the current provider of a drug rehabilitation unit.

The authority did not explain why the contract was awarded to another company, but a spokesman said: ‘Reducing the harm caused by substance misuse to people, their families and communities is important. We have completed the process of tendering to provide a substance misuse service for Hampshire adults. Our priority is to work with the existing provider to ensure continuity of service for those accessing treatment and support, and people are kept informed.’