Methil heroin addict feels ‘let down’ by staff shortages at NHS Fife

The woman claims staff shortages are affecting the Addictions Service.
The woman claims staff shortages are affecting the Addictions Service.

A Methil woman claims staff shortages are affecting the service she is receiving from NHS Fife’s Addictions Service.

The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, claims staff shortages within the service have led to her monthly meetings lasting just minutes, being refused detox despite asking over a number of months, not being taught addiction control techniques, and frequent changes in support workers.

She also claims the amount of methadone she is prescribed was recently lowered after her bottles were found in another house – allegations she denies.

She says the change to her prescription has now forced her back on to heroin – something she says she had not touched in a year, barring one “slip up”.

“If I had been given that detox 10 months ago, I wouldn’t be in this situation,” she said.

“Nearly the whole time I’ve been up there, there has been a staff shortage problem. When I’ve needed them to be there for me, there has been no staff to help.

“The service on the whole is a sham.

“My life was going uphill. I was in the perfect position to come off but because they are understaffed you can’t get the detox.”

Her claim that her appeals for a detox were turned down is just one of a number of issues she says have been caused by staff shortages.

The woman alleges her monthly sessions at the service at Cameron Hospital are lasting minutes and that she has not been taught methods which might help her control her cravings.

“You’re never cured,” she explained.

“For a lot of people it’s a coping mechanisms for traumatic events.

“That’s why it’s important addiction services are teaching crave control and different techniques.

“I’ve not been taught anything.”

She added: “They are totally understaffed.

“They bring new people on but that does not last. You then work with someone else.

“I don’t like going through my history every time. I want to build a relationship with someone so when you go to an appointment you feel comfortable with them. But how do you do that when you’re only with them for a few months?”

The woman started taking heroin, aged just 15, but was clean for six years after a successful detox.

Her addiction returned around five years ago, and since then she has been using the service.

Response from NHS Fife

“We can’t comment on individual cases,” said Julie Paterson, divisional general manager.

“As with many services, the demand fluctuates. Currently we have approximately 1600 service users across Fife and a staff base of 62.

“We work closely with our clients to deliver the best care possible – this includes providing a key support worker who works with the clients on a one to one basis.

“There is a range of detox programmes available and again these are tailored to the needs of the individual.”