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Drugs rehab centre in Inverness ‘not fit for purpose’

By Ian Duncan

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Osprey House.
Osprey House.

NHS Highland told the public that the region’s only drug and alcohol rehab centre was “no longer fit for purpose” and needed to relocate – before having to backtrack and claim it was an error.

The damning assessment of Osprey House, based in the grounds of Raigmore Hospital in Inverness, was included in minutes of a meeting of the Highland Alcohol and Drugs Partnership Strategy Group.

Coming to light after the formal record of the June meeting was forwarded for noting to Highland Council’s care, learning and housing committee and published online, the minutes state: “Osprey House accommodation now sits as a priority with NHS Highland as it is no longer fit for purpose, however we are reliant on another service moving and vacating premises.”

The minutes also claim: “The nature of cases coming in are also far more challenging. There is a client on service that we cannot safely provide treatment to as the level of violence to staff is too high a risk.”

Placing doubts over the future of the treatment centre which provides counselling and in-patient detoxification services for people struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, NHS Highland claimed the details were inaccurate when questioned about them by the Courier.

A spokeswoman said the reference to a violent individual was incorrect and that Osprey House would not be moving.

“We are looking at making changes to the building to make it more welcoming,” she said.

She said the minutes came from a meeting in June and should have been passed by the group’s next meeting, held in September, however that meeting was not quorate, meaning they could not be formally approved.

She added: “This is a very busy meeting with a lot of information being discussed and debated by a number of different people.

“It is regrettable the minutes were not subject to the usual procedures before being made public and the partnership will look into tightening up these processes to ensure, as best they can, that this does not happen again.”

This response was not good enough for many of the councillors sitting on the care, learning and housing committee.

Inverness South councillor Andrew Jarvie was alarmed by the situation. “The NHS should not palm this off saying ‘that’s fine’,” he said. “They need to go further to reassure people.”

Linda Munro, vice-chairwoman of the council committee, underlined it was not its responsibility to approve or correct minutes from outside bodies and that she had “the greatest respect” for the alcohol and drugs partnership. But she said it was “concerning” if the minutes were incorrect.

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