Remember it’s people that are most important

COMMENT: You showed that you all really care about others

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It’s not hard to see why people have fought long and hard to keep the Baytrees centre open in Portsmouth.

There’s no denying that it offers a vital service to its users, often vulnerable people with drug or alcohol problems.

But while the final decision has yet to be made, it certainly looks like the centre in the grounds of St James’ Hospital has an uncertain future.

We have some powerful testimony in our report on yesterday’s health, overview and scrutiny panel meeting from users of Baytrees’ services.

Recovering alcoholic Sheila Walsh said it ‘saved her life’.

Another user Jane More says: ‘People deserve a chance of recovery.’

There’s no denying these are strong views.

And with the alternative treatment centres being as far away as Weston-super-Mare, there’s no doubt that if the expected closure follows, the local help on offer to people with drug and alcohol problems will be changed, and not for the better.

But, as always, it’s never cut and dried.

Solent NHS Trust, which operates Baytrees, points out that it is receiving fewer and fewer referrals for treatment.

And today, only seven of the 23 beds are occupied.

No-one can fail to notice the financial pressures that all areas of the health service are under, so it’s no surprise that a unit not fully used finds itself in the position Baytrees does.

We can only hope that whatever the final decision, those who make it don’t forget what is surely the most important factor – people.

Whether from Portsmouth, the surrounding area, or further afield, Baytrees has offered valuable help and support.

If, when the time comes, it does close, let’s hope they are not forgotten.