Dalkeith Social Work Centre is to become a central ‘recovery hub’ for mental health and substance misuse services, at a cost of £847,500.
At the full council meeting last week councillors agreed to the initiative, which will see NHS mental health and drug misuse staff relocating to the St Andrews Street premises from Old Bonnyrigg Health Centre and Glenesk Centre in Dalkeith. The council’s criminal justice team will remain at Dalkeith Social Work Centre.
They will be joined by social work staff specialising in mental health and drug issues as well as drug recovery charity MELD (Midlothian and East Lothian Drugs).
However, speaking at the meeting, Midlothian Council leader Derek Milligan (Lab) expressed concerns that support for local people with addiction issues “switches off” between 5pm on a Friday and 9am on a Monday.
He said: “I’m going to give a lukewarm welcome to the report. There are two issues I have with it.
“People in recovery mode have been telling us for years that their support switches off at five o’clock on a Friday and it’s not back on until nine o’clock on a Monday morning. They need somewhere to go as people in recovery.
“I would ask that a report comes back quite quickly on how we can look at a recovery cafe where peer support would be available at weekends.
“The other area I’m exceptionally disappointed on is we are going to move in with an NHS IT System and a council IT system, it’s absolute madness. Someone needs to break the mould.
“If the person facing these challenges tells their story to an NHS worker then a council worker is unlikely to be able to see that story as they can’t get the consents to see the system.
“However I don’t think the solution is sitting here. That’s a discussion we need to have.”
Councillors agreed to ask officials to come back to council with details of how to accommodate a recovery cafe during weekends.
Councillor Cath Johnstone (SNP) said: “I do agree but I think this is a good report and we should support these recommendations. The cost to the council will be quite expensive but the long-term savings to the community will be far greater.
“So we can’t let this opportunity slip through our hands regardless of whether or not two IT systems speak to each other, as the workforce will be in the same building and they will be able to speak to each other.”