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London's first dedicated detox unit for homeless people opens at St Thomas'


Posted on Thursday 17 June 2021
20210609 Addiction Clinical Care Suite Unit

John Archer, consultant physician and Shantelle Quashie, lead nurse for the Addiction Clinical Care Suite at St Thomas' with Alison Keating (centre) from PHE London

The Capital's first dedicated detox unit for homeless people has opened at St Thomas' Hospital. The new unit aims to save the lives of some of the city’s most vulnerable and provide them with an avenue off the streets for good.

The Addiction Clinical Care Suite will plug 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.

As well as supporting people who sleep rough to safely withdraw from alcohol and drugs as part of the first steps in a treatment journey, the service will provide peer support, groups, and activities alongside a range of other initiatives focusing on stopping smoking, healthy eating, essential screening, vaccinations and mental well-being.

It includes a support programme, with access to psychiatrists and psychologists to help patients begin a recovery from life on the streets and harmful substance use.

Dr Ian Abbs, Chief Executive Officer of Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, said: "We are very proud to be part of this new service at St Thomas' Hospital, which is a lifeline to people living in incredibly difficult circumstances.

"Our expert medical and nursing teams will work with mental health colleagues to provide specialist care in one suite. Getting this right will mean we can give this group of patients a chance to live healthier and happier lives.”

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.”

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 after funding was awarded by central government. The project was then commissioned by the City of London Corporation before St Thomas’ Hospital was chosen to deliver the service.

Alison Keating, Head of Alcohol, Drugs and Tobacco at PHE London, said: “We are delighted to have been able to lead on the creation of this fantastic new unit that will provide life-changing and life-saving treatments to some of London’s most vulnerable homeless people.

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