Hospital’s 15-bed addiction support unit could close to save money

Inside a patient bedroom at The Woodlands, Highbury Hospital. (Photo: Notts Healthcare Trust)

A Nottingham support unit helping people to beat drink and drug addiction could close because of a lack of funding, NHS managers say.

The Woodlands, at Highbury Hospital, Highbury Vale, is the only centre in Nottinghamshire of its type, offering a treatment, counselling and screening service.

Nottinghamshire Healthcare Foundation Trust, which runs the unit, says not enough people are using it so it should close to save money. The 15 bed complex currently costs £2 million a year to run.

Campaigners say its closure would be a ‘tragedy’, but managers say funding for the centre is running out, partly because of a lack of demand from other authorities.

Woodlands helps people get off alcohol, opiates, opioids and stimulant drugs. It also arranges mental health treatment, and provides counselling and peer support.

The funding outlook for the Woodlands has been bleak. Back in October 2014, the unit lost a contact worth more than half a million pounds from Nottinghamshire County Council – which paid for the equivalent of 6.5 beds.

Richard Buckwell, Chair of Nottingham’s Keep our NHS Public Campaign said, “Nottingham has the 6th highest level of patients admitted to hospitals for alcohol related reasons… it will be a tragedy if it goes.”

The Woodlands helps people beat a variety of addictions, from heroin to alcohol. (Photo: Notts Healthcare Trust)

A meeting was held on Thursday (October 5) to discuss the potential closure of the unit and examine different ways of replacing the service. The changes could be implemented next year.

Senior Officer of the Royal College of Nursing, Marie Hannah, who attended the meeting, said: “We thought it was a really good opportunity, it was successful as we had a chance to meet with the board. They said they will keep in contact but unfortunately this situation is typical of the cuts in the NHS.”

Nottinghamshire Healthcare stressed it has not yet made a final decision and says staff are being involved in the process to provide an alternative service.

A statement from the trust read: “A detailed financial analysis has been undertaken of the Woodlands Unit income and costs. The trust cannot continue to run the current service model at the Woodlands Unit within the available resources.

“The financial losses have to be covered by the Trust and this jeopardises other services.

“Staff are fully involved in the work to develop a new service model. We are confident that there will not be compulsory redundancies because we have vacancies in other parts of the service. Once plans are a little more developed we will consult formally.”

The unit is credited with helping to turn around the lives of many people who have been treated there.

If the closure is approved, the centre could go next year. (Photo: Google)

One former patient, writing anonymously on the Care Opinion website, said: “I went in to Woodlands a depressed, drinker with bad anxiety and no life and came out a man with a future.

“The service they provide with what little funding they get is miraculous, Every single team member I met was so lovely and caring and really treat you with so much respect.”

He added: “When I went in every single person had their own story and you find yourself sat all together letting it all out so its like you are all helping each other through what is a rough road.

“I can’t say how happy I am to have been to Woodlands, I’ll never forget the team and my experience.”

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