OVER 3,500 PEOPLE were waiting for a drug or alcohol detox bed in Ireland, as of February 2021, with over 2,200 on the waiting list for at least nine months.
Between December 2019 and June 2020, 170 residential beds were closed. A number of these had reopened by November last year but 143 remained closed around the country, according to HSE data released to Noteworthy.
Both the length of the waiting list and the time people are spending on it for residential addiction treatment across the country has increased due to “the necessary Covid-19 safeguards”, according to the Department of Health.
These increases in waiting times range “from an average of 2-6 weeks in some services to an average of 6-9 months in other services”, a DOH spokesperson told Noteworthy.
The HSE response lists reduced capacity in order to comply with public health guidance, restrictions on new entries and closures due to outbreaks as some of the issues that have impacted waiting lists during the pandemic. It added:
In addition, there are difficulties carrying out face to face assessments and validating waiting lists as many of the interactions are telephone only.
The waiting list figures were released by the HSE in response to a parliamentary question by TD and co-leader of the Social Democrats, Róisín Shortall.
Only six of the nine HSE Community Health Organisation (CHO) areas had services listed in the PQ. When asked about the lack of detox beds in some areas, a HSE spokesperson told Noteworthy that “access to all beds is based on need rather than geographical location”.
Read more here on how to support a major Noteworthy project to investigate why people are waiting up to two years for a drug detox bed.
The HSE area with the largest waiting list for drug and alcohol detox beds of more than 1,800 people is CHO 3 which covers Clare, Limerick and North Tipperary. Over 1,400 were waiting more than nine months.
The next highest is over 1,500 people waiting for services in CHO 7 which covers Kildare, West Wicklow and parts of West and South Dublin, with over half of these again waiting more than nine months.
These were also the CHOs with the highest number of residential bed closures over the past year, with 62 closing in CHO 3 and 60 in CHO 7 between December 2019 and November 2020.
Some people have been waiting up to two years for a detox bed in one particular centre – St Francis Farm in Carlow.
Source: The Journal.ie, 29/04/21