A community based alcohol treatment service for Galway is about to be reintroduced, following the securing of €470,000 in funding, a newly published HSE service plan has revealed.
Almost €500,000 has been approved for the service in 2020 which will allow the lease of a dedicated building plus the creation of a number of posts, including three dedicated alcohol addiction counsellors, a family support counsellor, a project worker, a liaison nurse and administrative staff.
Fine Gael Galway West TD Hildegarde Naughton was among those leading the campaign for the service to be reintroduced. She worked with local activists, doctors, addiction counsellors, and gardai over the last year, and held meetings with both the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, and the Minister for Health Promotion, Catherine Byrne, in relation to the matter.
The former alcohol treatment facility burned down in 2012 leaving the city with no dedicated treatment service. Prior to that, c50 people a day sought counselling or treatment for drug or alcohol dependency. “This created huge problems for patients and their families and has caused a major burden to fall on local GPs who had no referral system and also pressure on the psychiatric and emergency departments at UCHG,” said Dep Naughton. “This will no longer be the case.”
Dep Naughton paid tribute to Sean Harty, chair of the Addiction Counsellors of Ireland, who was “instrumental in ensuring this service was re-established”; CEO of the Saolta Hospital Group, Tony Canavan, who put the proposal for funding to the HSE; and the members of the Galway Alcohol Services Working Group.
It was also welcomed by Minister Sean Kyne who said that with this service, people battling alcohol addiction will have access to an out-patient treatment service with a focus on detoxification.
“Local GPs will be able to refer patients with an alcohol problem to the new service which, it is hoped, will reduce the number of alcohol associated attendances at the Emergency Department.
“The Sláintecare plan puts an emphasis on healthcare in the community and this new service, led by local healthcare staff and experts, is in keeping with this approach and will provide help and support to people in Galway with alcohol dependency issues at the local level,” he concluded.