Clare Bailey MLA

Opioid addiction a growing problem without a strategy to deal with it

Wednesday 08 August 2018

Clare Bailey MLA has said that lives are being lost as Health Department commitments on waiting lists fail to improve access to addiction support services.

The South Belfast MLA spoke out amidst growing concerns around levels of opioid addiction across Belfast, saying:

“The problem of heroin and opioid addiction across our city has been increasing over recent years. Despite warnings of a growing problem we are facing an epidemic without a strategy to deal with it.

“I have been contacted by many families affected by drug addiction – their fear and frustration is palpable.

“It’s clear that the Belfast Trust doesn’t have the appropriate resources needed to meet demand for addiction support services.

“Within Northern Ireland, the Belfast Trust ranks lowest for addiction support services funding. While other Trusts are meeting waiting list targets, the Belfast Trust continues to struggle.

“I raised this matter with the Permanent Secretary for Health, Richard Pengelly, earlier this year when Mr Pengelly indicated that £30 million of Westminster confidence and supply funding would improve waiting list times. I encouraged Mr Pengelly to use some of that £30 million to tackle addiction services waiting lists.

“Since then, there has been no discernible improvement in access to addiction support services. Rather, indications are that more people are becoming addicted and opioids are more readily available across our city”.

Clare Bailey MLA concluded:

“This is a life and death situation for people addicted to opioids. Decision makers must approach drug addiction as a disease and fund the support services that can save the lives of those in the throes of addiction”.

ENDS

Media contact

Sinead McIvor – 07701 302 498

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