Anger As HSE ‘Sends Drug Addicts To Village’
The Health Service Executive (HSE) decision to dispense methadone to recovering drug addicts from St Ita’s Hospital in rural north Dublin has sparked protests from local residents.
Heroin addicts previously received their methadone from seven pharmacies around north county Dublin — but this service was withdrawn from Monday in a row over fees.
Chairman of Donabate and Portrane Community Council Bob Dowling last night said the decision to set up the regional methadone clinic in Portrane was ill-conceived, as it is situated in a isolated rural area.
“This decision has been taken despite the fact that Portrane is difficult to get to. It is an isolated rural area, and there is no Garda station.
“Forcing recovering addicts to get to Portrane was extremely unfair on them as, for example, it means a train and a bus journey for those travelling from the likes of Balbriggan,” he added.
“This facility should have been set up in a large population centre like Swords or Balbriggan. Swords has four to five times the population of the Donabate-Portrane peninsula.
“Portrane is a small isolated village on the sea shore. This decision is a poor one for all concerned — both the residents of the area and the recovering addicts”. Mr Dowling also criticised the HSE’s failure to consult the community about the decision.
Up to 140 pharmacists yesterday boycotted the methadone dispensing service for a second day running, forcing around 3,000 addicts to get their supplies from eleven centres in Dublin and east Wicklow.
The pharmacists have been criticised for targeting a service vital to addicts, who are at risk of going back on heroin if their prescribed methadone supply is interrupted.
Pharmacists want to enter into negotiations on fees paid for various State schemes which they operate, but the HSE has said this is not possible because of competition laws.
Labour health spokesman, Jan O’Sullivan last night said, “It has now become a matter of urgency that talks are arranged between the HSE and representatives of pharmacists… with regard to the proposed reduction in the amount paid to pharmacists for drugs they buy from wholesalers and dispense to patients under State drugs schemes.”
“The Minister cannot stand idly by while 3,000 methadone patients are directly affected this week and other vulnerable groups are also at risk.”