London’s first dedicated detox unit for homeless is set to open on June 14 to help save the lives of some of the city’s most vulnerable people and provide them with an avenue off the streets for good, the Public Health England (PHE) said on Wednesday (June 10).
The addiction clinical care suite, based at St Thomas’ Hospital in Lambeth, 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.
This vital new service is being provided thanks to a unique pan-London partnership among the capital’s leading public bodies.
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 also provide peer support, groups, and activities alongside a range of other initiatives focusing on stopping smoking, healthy eating, essential screening, vaccinations and mental wellbeing.
The new initiative also includes a holistic support programme, with access to psychiatrists and psychologists to help patients begin a recovery from life on the streets and harmful substance use.
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.
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.”
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.”
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 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.