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Withdrawal of residential drug treatment funding

Dr Lynda Scott National Health Spokesperson

29 October 2003

Withdrawal of residential drug treatment funding 'short-sighted'

The Government's forced closure of the Hanmer Clinic's in-patient drug and alcohol treatment programme is short-sighted, particularly in view of the ever-increasing abuse of methamphetamine, says National Health Spokesperson Dr Lynda Scott.

"The clinic has helped thousands of New Zealanders with drug problems over the past three decades but the Government's removal, via the Ministry of Health, of funding for in-patient services means it can in future only provide out-patient help at Hanmer.

"That will severely limit the effect the clinic can have. While out-patient services assist a large number of people with drug and alcohol abuse problems, there will always be some for whom residential treatment is the only answer. They need to be able to get totally away from their drug-taking environment," she said.

The clinic at Queen Mary Hospital in Hanmer accepted its last residential patients last Friday and in-patient treatment will cease on 28 November.

"This will be a loss to the electorate in terms of jobs, and to the whole of New Zealand in terms of access to treatment for alcohol and drug problems.

"A third of patients in recent times have been methamphetamine users and the number of people using this drug is rising all the time. Yet now the Government's cutting back on the help available.

"The reduction of in-patient mental health services has placed huge stresses on the community in recent years. We should learn from these mistakes.

"Closure of in-patient drug treatment services at Hanmer will leave a big hole in the services available for people for whom out-patient treatment will never provide the intensive help needed, especially at the start of their alcohol and drug rehabilitation programme," Dr Scott said.

Ends

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