People with alcohol problems in Galway will now also have to present with a mental health issue before they can access treatment under new Health Service Executive guidelines for the west.
Sinn Féin Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh said a HSE West email asked personnel “to confirm that all addiction counsellors in their areas only treat people who have mental health issues as well as addiction”.
He said this was a change in how referrals were made, which would mean that GPs could no longer be able to refer patients with an alcohol addiction to HSE services unless they have been diagnosed with a “co-morbid mental health illness”.
Senator Ó Clochartaigh, who raised the issue in the Seanad before Christmas, described this restriction as “totally unacceptable”.
It was more so around Christmas when families were stressed and alcohol was frequently abused, he said.
The Junior Minister for the National Drugs Strategy Catherine Byrne told the Seanad she was unhappy with the answer she received from the health service on the issue and would ask the HSE how it planned to reconfigure addiction services in the west to ensure all individuals “who will present with an alcohol addiction will be catered for in the coming weeks”.