Under Freedom of Information, the Health and Social Care Board released details of the 38 formal submissions received in response to the Public Consultation on the Reconfiguration of Tier 4 Services, which are In-patient Based Addiction and Substance Misuse Treatment Services.
The consultation ran from October 4, 2013 to January 24, 2014, and included five public meetings held, the only one in the west taking place in Omagh.
There were also four additional meetings with service users, one in Derry on January 9, 2014.
Of the written responses, four were from district council officers; five from political representatives; five from Health and Social Care Trusts; 12 from the voluntary sector; seven from individuals and four from service user network groups.
Back in September 2013, there were four units within the north undertaking Tier 4 services- with a total of 42 beds available, including an eight bed Omagh facility for rehabilitation (which closed at weekends), while the other three facilities in Antrim, Downpatrick and Armagh were used for detoxification and other services.
The first set of proposals to revamp the services. Rehabilitation care would continue to be delivered largely by the independent sector across two sites, one in Belfast and the other in the Northlands Centre in Derry (something Omagh Council had argued against), while detoxification facilities would be located at two other services east of the Bann.
The Northlands Centre was already, at that time, dealing with around 50 episodes of care by year of average five to six weeks duration at that stage.
The overall proposals were later revised to 30 beds across three sites, delivering both the detox and rehabilitation services with savings from the then current model to be ploughed into Tier 3, community-based addiction services.
A subsequent report stated: “In Omagh, very strong views were expressed at the meeting in terms of Tier 4 services within the Western Trust area and ideally at the existing Omagh facility.”
One of the respondents to the consultation was White Oaks in Muff, who stated that “the need for detoxification/ stabilisation is beyond doubt.”
Former Foyle SDLP MLA Pat Ramsey, who had been a long-time campaigner for better addiction services, meanwhile had, during the consultation process, advocated strongly for a detox facility in Derry.
In his written response, Mr Ramsey said: “I am very clear that reconfigured services for Tier 4 as a result of this consultation should lead to access services in the Derry City area.
“A Tier 4 service must be sited in the wider Derry area given the population, perceived need and opportunities for partnership with mental health services such as Grangewood.”