AN OXFORDSHIRE rehab clinic which has remained open and treating new patients during the coronavirus crisis said the government's 'chosen silence' during lockdown was 'dangerous'.

As soon as coronavirus reach the UK in January, changes were made to Banbury Lodge rehab.

A Covid Crisis Management Team was formed to ensure it was able to stay open, free of Covid-19, and continue to treat new addicts from Oxfordshire and the surrounding areas.

Between January 31 and May 23 – 85 days – 172 clients were treated at the Banbury rehab, an average of two admissions per day.

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The rehab has warned without the help it was able to offer during the outbreak, these addicts may have continued their addiction at home, 'significantly increasing' the chances of putting strain on local ambulance and NHS hospitals during the peak of the pandemic.

The clinic team has criticised the government for its ‘chosen silence’ over what services were still open during the initial lockdown period, which started in March.

Current government guidance states the joint efforts of the drug and alcohol treatment workforce are 'an essential and highly valued element' of the national response to Covid-19 and that it was important that such services continued.

It added: "People who misuse or are dependent on drugs and alcohol may be at increased risk of becoming infected, and infecting others, with Covid-19.

Banbury Cake:

Nuno Albuquerque

"They may also be more vulnerable to poor health outcomes due to underlying physical and mental health conditions, as well as mental health issues associated with lockdown."

It does stress the need to limit face-to-face interaction though.

Nuno Albuquerque, treatment lead for the UK Addiction Treatment Group which operates Banbury Lodge, insisted advice at the peak of the pandemic was not clear enough.

He said: “Time is of the essence when it comes to successfully treating someone with an addiction. As soon as an addict asks for help, help needs to be provided. They cannot wait until lockdown is lifted."

He explained this was why it was 'crucial' for staff to ensure the rehab remained open and able to admit clients across Oxfordshire during the crisis.

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Mr Albuquerque added: “The government chose to remain silent when it came to people suffering with addiction; they chose to not encourage getting the help they desperately needed and so we fully expect a rush of clients seeking treatment once lockdown is over."

He said this was a 'dangerous approach' as people's dependency will have worsened and for some, the delay in getting treatment 'may well have been fatal'.

He added: "Addiction doesn’t stop because we’re in the midst of a global pandemic, and so neither could we."

Banbury Lodge launched online group aftercare programmes available to all clients leaving treatment during the crisis.

These support groups offered regular interaction with therapists and others to help prevent relapse.

To access treatment and support for addiction, visit banburylodge.com/