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[Irish Medical Times] , Culliton, Gary Interventions for the homeless stabilise. (03 Oct 2013)

External website: http://www.imt.ie/news/latest-news/2013/10/interve...

There were 3,316 healthcare interventions by the Merchants Quay Primary Health Care Services in 2012, in line with figures from the previous year.

The healthcare service operated by Merchants Quay Ireland (MQI) in partnership with the HSE, the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive and SafetyNet provided medical, nursing, dental and counselling care to people affected by homelessness and drug use.

In 2012, two sessional GPs dealt with around 1,000 consultations or 83 per month. Some 509 unique clients utilised the GP service, presenting with a variety of acute and chronic illnesses, according to the MQI Annual Review 2012 launched recently by Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton TD.

Some 735 counselling sessions were held in 2012, while a total of 1,586 nursing interventions took place, or 132 per month. The drop-in nurse-led clinic provided a full range of primary health services such as wound care management, blood testing, sexual health, medication management and women’s and men’s health services. Mental health presentations ranged from acutely suicidal clients to those who needed to be referred back to services they have lost contact with. Referrals to tertiary services such as emergency departments and other hospitals and advocacy were a large part of the nursing role.

According to MQI, poly-drug use remained a prevalent trend with some 75 per cent of Needle Exchange users reporting use of multiple substances. A combination of heroin, benzodiazepines and alcohol was the most common presenting issue at MQI’s services nationwide in 2012.

MQI Chief Executive Tony Geoghegan told IMT that proposals included in the Draft Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Regulations 2013 “should make a difference” in terms of reducing availability of drugs such as benzodiazepines, but he said “treatment services have to adjust” to the complexities presented by poly-drug use.

The needle exchange service in Dublin recorded over 20,800 client visits, showing an increase of almost 2,000 visits on 2011. There was also an increase of people from outside Dublin accessing MQI’s residential services.

“Demand for our homeless and drugs services is growing, yet finances are contracting,” said Geoghegan. “We call on the Government to honour their commitment to social justice and maintain services that protect the most vulnerable men and women in Ireland.”


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