Councillor Farrell thanked the Chair for allowing him to raise the issue regarding the lack of addiction services across the city and district. He stated addiction was a scourge on society with not many families being left unaffected by it. He stated that there had been renewed calls by young Tamzin White, who recently lost her mother, for a detox centre in the city. He felt that whilst such a facility would not fix the problem of addiction, it would be a step in the right direction. He stated that Council should contact the decision makers such as the Minister for Health, Western Health and Social Care Trust (WHSCT) and the Health and Social Care Board to ascertain their plans to improve addiction services across the city and district, including a detox facility.
Continuing, he noted that the Mayor was part of a local commissioning group were he had raised this issue in recent days. He stated that he was also mindful of the UK Government’s New Decade New Approach commitment for additional funding to support the Derry addiction centre. He advised that his Party colleague, Mark H Durkan, pressed the First Minister at a recent sitting of the Assembly on the matter. He proposed that Council contact the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Mr Brandon Lewis, to ask what action was being taken regarding the implementation of addiction services for this Council area. He further proposed that representatives from the local addiction sector be invited to present to Members to hear the challenges faced by the sector on a daily basis and for any solutions they may have to the growing addiction problem faced by our society. He believed that mental health was the poor relation of health and addiction was the poor relation of mental health. Therefore, Council should play a key role in lobbying for improved addiction services for the people across the city and district.
Councillor Farrell Proposed, Seconded by Councillor Duffy
That Council write to the Department of Health, Western Trust, Health and Social Care Board, Public Health Agency and Western Local Commissioning Group to understand plans for enhanced addiction treatment provision in the council area, including detox services.
To write to the Secretary of State to understand progress in delivery of the New Decade, New Approach commitment of additional funding to support the Derry addiction centre.
To invite representatives from the local addiction sector to appraise Council of pressures on existing services.
Councillor Doyle advised that he would be presenting a motion to full Council in relation to the matter. He noted that the First Minister had advised that the commissioning of the service was a matter of prioritisation. He stated that dual diagnosis was a significant issue and that guidance on this was under the purview of the Health and Social Care Board. He advised that this would also be included in the motion. He stated that he fully supported the proposal by Councillor Farrell and hoped that the SDLP and other Parties would support his motion on the matter.
Councillor Duffy stated that she was in full agreement with Councillor Farrell’s proposal. She stated that it was an emotive and important issue for this city and district and one that Council had worked on over a number of years and would continue to do so. She referred to the commitment within the New Decade, New Approach document and believed that it needed to be explored further. She suggested that the Civic Forum be reconvened as a number of partner agencies were part of that group who were involved in addiction and mental health services and also with various voluntary bodies throughout the city and district.
The Chair stated that he also supported Councillor Farrell’s proposal. He referred to comments made by Councillor Duffy and advised that the matter had been raised at a recent meeting of the mental health working group where it was agreed that the Civic Forum was the most suitable arena to bring this matter forward. He further advised that it had been agreed at that meeting that representatives of the Civic Forum be invited to present to Members.
Alderman Devenney stated that the DUP fully supported the proposal. He stated that any assistance in relation to addiction problems and mental health issues was to be welcomed. He stated that it was important to continue to lobby with MLAs on the matter and concurred that the Civic Forum should be reconvened as soon as possible.
Councillor Ferguson stated that addiction services were needed throughout the city and district for a long time. She welcomed that Councillor Doyle had mentioned that dual diagnosis was also a significant factor. She stated that people had been turned away from services due to them having a dual diagnosis. She referred to Tamzin White’s story and how she felt that if Derry had a detox centre, her mother would still be here.
Recommended That (i) Council write to the Department of Health, Western Trust, Health and Social Care Board, Public Health Agency and Western Local Commissioning Group to understand plans for enhanced addiction treatment provision in the council area, including detox services; (ii) write to the Secretary of State to understand progress in delivery of the New Decade, New Approach commitment of additional funding to support the Derry addiction centre; (iii) invite representatives from the local addiction sector to appraise Council of pressures on existing services; (iv) that a meeting of the Civic Forum be reconvened as soon as possible; (vi)That this Council, in support of many families and communities in this District who have lost loved ones due to alcohol or substance addictions, calls on the NI Executive to immediately bring forward proposals for the capital and recurring resource funding of an addiction centre as outlined in New Decade New Approach; (vii)
Acknowledges the need for NICE guidance NG65 on coexisting severe mental illness and substance misuse to be supported by fully funded community and social care services
and (ix) will seek an urgent meeting with relevant Executive Ministers to discuss how the addictioncentre and service proposal will fulfil the needs of our constituents.