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  • Year-long wait for addicts to access methadone treatment

    Posted on April 27th, 2010 TimB No comments

    Heroin  addicts in the north-east are waiting more than a year to get on a methadone programme, figures from the Health Service Executive have shown.

    There are about 430 people nationwide waiting to for methadone treatment, with some areas reporting a backlog which means addicts must wait several months before they can access the heroin substitute.

    In Athlone and Portlaoise, more than 100 addicts are waiting up to seven months for methadone, while in Drogheda 15 people have been on a waiting list for 15 months. In Waterford more than 40 people have been waiting for about two years.

    Methadone waiting lists have been a problem due to the lack of participation of GPs on the methadone protocol scheme.

    There are approximately 9,000 people on methadone treatment, but only about 297 GPs involved in administering it. There are 159 GPs in Dublin-Mid-Leinster who can prescribe it, 74 in Dublin North-East, but only 43 in the HSE Western region, which covers nine counties including Galway, Mayo, Limerick and Sligo, and just 21 in the HSE South covering seven counties from Cork to Carlow.

    According to the HSE, there has been a “significant increase” in opiate use outside the Dublin area.

    A spokesperson said it is currently in the process of providing 10 additional new methadone services in: Wexford Town, Gorey, Waterford City, Kilkenny, Cork, Tralee, Limerick, Drogheda and Dundalk.

    The HSE said clinic facilities at Gorey, Wexford, Cork (Simon), Tralee, and Dundalk are completed and facilities at Kilkenny, Drogheda and Waterford are near completion. A facility at Limerick and in Cork city are “being progressed”.

    “It is intended that these additional methadone services will facilitate access to methadone in the appropriate areas of the country and the HSE will be recruiting additional sessional GPs to provide these extra clinics in the coming months,” the HSE added.

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