Coronavirus: Long waiting list for reopened addiction centre

addiction Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Northlands is a community-based, independent treatment centre, which treats people with addiction problems

An addiction centre in Londonderry is experiencing long waiting lists of people needing to access treatment because of coronavirus.

Tommy Canning, who is head of treatment at Northlands Addiction Centre, said people who need help are unable to access treatment.

Because of social distancing the centre is operating at 50% capacity.

Mr Canning said a new centre was needed in the city to properly function moving forward from coronavirus.

Image copyright Tommy Canning
Image caption "There are about 16 people now on a very long waiting list waiting for residential treatment," Mr Canning said.

The centre reopened this week after closing its doors for residential treatment during lockdown.

In May, Northlands recorded a 50% drop in the number of people contacting the organisation.

'Mixed emotions'

Speaking to BBC Radio Foyle, Mr Canning said although he is "delighted to reopen" the services the centre can offer have been seriously affected by coronavirus.

Staff have had to readjust to longer working hours and many addiction programmes have had to be condensed from six weeks into four weeks.

"We are working evenings and weekends to give people as much treatment as we can," Mr Canning said.

"We are now working in a way that we really wouldn't like to be to at the minute," he added.

'People need help'

"There are about 16 people now on a very long waiting list for residential treatment," Mr Canning said.

"Within the world of addiction that is not a good place to be, people need help".

Mr Canning believes coronavirus has shown a new, bigger addiction centre in Derry is needed.

"It has become obvious to us that because of coronavirus our centre isn't fit for purpose," Mr Canning said.

"Physically because of the size [of the centre] and because of social distancing requirements, we aren't able to be at 100% capacity because of it [coronavirus]".

"We've outgrown this centre in terms of the service we are providing," he added.

Mr Canning is hoping a new centre of excellence in Derry, which was envisaged in the New Decade New Approach Deal, will progress and those with addiction issues can get the help they need.

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