London's First Dedicated Detox Unit for Homeless People Opens

Dawn O'Shea

June 14, 2021

London's first dedicated detox unit for homeless people has opened. The Addiction Clinical Care Suite, based at St Thomas' Hospital in Lambeth, will address a known gap in treatment facilities for homeless people dealing with serious alcohol and substance dependence. Its location in a hospital setting will enable patients to receive the wide range of care needed to treat the complexity of health problems facing those living on London's streets.

The new service is being provided thanks to a unique pan-London partnership among the capital's leading public bodies.

Public Health England (PHE) London led the creation of the project with the Greater London Authority, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust and London's borough councils.

As well as supporting people who sleep rough to safely withdraw from alcohol and drugs, the service will also provide peer support and activities alongside a range of other initiatives focusing on stopping smoking, healthy eating, essential screening, vaccinations, and mental wellbeing.

It includes an holistic support programme, with access to psychiatrists and psychologists.

The intention is to meet immediate needs while providing opportunities for long term change, contributing to ending rough sleeping and tackling entrenched health inequalities.

Referrals will come from across London and local authorities will ensure that people supported by the service have somewhere suitable to go after their detox period has been completed.

This is the first of several new pan-London substance misuse services due to open this year.

Commenting on the initiative, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: "I am delighted to be supporting this landmark new service, providing vital support to some of the most vulnerable Londoners.

"The window for helping those with addictions can often be incredibly small and ensuring immediate access to appropriate detoxification and treatment can be life changing. The health issues experienced by people who are homeless are often complex and entrenched, there are no quick fixes.

"Therefore, it is vital we continue to invest in addiction support and substance misuse therapies to address these life-threatening health inequalities."

This article originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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