Funding cuts have meant that now as little as 5 NHS Inpatient Units (IPUs) are operating in England, and their funding remains precarious. There is a significant risk that the remaining NHS IPUs may be forced to close, leading to devastating consequences for service users, their families and the wider healthcare system. Patryk, a former service user at the ACER IPU, a part of the Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust, spoke of his story and why he believes it is essential that we #KeepTheFewNHSIPUs.
In March 2015 Patryk hit rock bottom: “ I was drinking, I was lost, I became homeless, and I started to live in a crack house”. Patryk did not realise that he was moving into a crack house, but he quickly got caught up in hard drug taking and things began to spiral. Fortunately, Patryk made friends with someone in the house who was accessing the ACER inpatient detox unit. The friend explained to Patryk how the IPU worked and took Patryk along to his GP to see if he could help. As Patryk explains:
“I spoke to his doctor and explained what was going on with me. I wasn’t sure what I was doing, but something pushed me to do something. I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t know what was wrong. Eventually he and the doctors helped me to go to ACER and get my detox”.
Patryk stayed in the IPU for two weeks. However, Patryk explains that “straight away I relapsed. I didn't know what was going on, I spoke a foreign language - my English was really poor. Mentally I was broken. I just carried on drinking and using. I knew I wanted to do something, but I didn’t know what”.
Fortunately, Patryk was still in touch with a drug worker from Blackberry Hill Hospital, who decided that Patryk needed to be removed from society for a longer period of time to help him overcome his drink and drug problems. It was at this point that Patryk had his epiphany: “When I relapsed again really badly, that was the moment that I started to understand what was going on. I was focused, I really wanted to change. I realised I couldn’t touch anything (drugs/alcohol), because when I did, I relapsed”.
Patryk continues: “This time I knew that I needed this, and I was willing to do anything that people told me. This time I stayed over two weeks as they were willing to let me stay. They gave me some tools, and when I left I knew I had to start using these tools. Sometimes you need to relapse to understand what's going on with yourself. It’s been quite a long journey for me. It took me nearly a year with my relapse to get better”.
In fact, Paryk’s recovery has been phenomenal, he has gone from strength to strength and now works as a Health Care Assistant within the ACER IPU where he stayed as a patient.
"This unit saved my life and is saving a lot of lives I know because I'm still in recovery. I still go to outside meetings as part of my recovery. I still see people who have been in the unit as a patient. They are still clean and sober. They have their life back again. I can relate to what happens to people after detox. This place saves lives".
“Now I work for the ACER unit, where I was a service user. I’ve got a home, I've got a partner, and I've got a job that I love. It’s amazing, I don’t have the words to describe it. I am so full of gratitude. I have a job that I love - I’m going to work and I am happy. I can help people and show them how I changed. How this place changed my life. I am very proud to work at the ACER unit and wear a NHS name badge -the ACER unit really has changed my life!”
As a Healthcare Assistant, Patryk supports the whole team, and as a former service user is able to relate to the other service users at the IPU: “I go on the ward and spend as much time as I can with service users. Straight away I tell them that I’m a drug and alcohol addict in recovery. I am the same as they are. They can see me as an example of how they can change too. I chat to them and support them if they’re struggling. I also run the groups and show them my point of view around alcohol and addictions. I am supporting the team with whatever they need. For the team, as an addict in recovery, I can see things from different angles and perspectives. I can support the team and speak to the service users as I’ve been where they are and I understand the position they’re in”.
“From my perspective this unit saved my life and is saving a lot of lives I know because I'm still in recovery. I still go to outside meetings as part of my recovery. I still see people who have been in the unit as a patient. They are still clean and sober. They have their life back again. I can relate to what happens to people after detox. This place saves lives. Not just our [service user] lives, but our families’ lives too. I feel very emotional about it”.
Patryk is incredibly passionate about the ACER IPU and is increasingly concerned about the funding cuts to the ACER unit and the other four remaining NHS IPUs:
”Everything is thanks to this unit. My recovery journey started there. This is really important. The ACER Team became my second family, they are all supporting me with my work and life. This unit saved my life and continues to support me, I can’t bear to think how my life might have turned out if it wasn’t for the ACER unit”.
How you can support the #KeepTheFewNHSIPUs campaign and help save the lives of more people like Patryk
We appreciate NHS APA and NHS IPN supporters taking the time to support our #KeepTheFewNHSIPUs campaign which advocates for Tier 4 funding and specialist commissioning via NHSE.
We have now launched an IPU petition in which you can pledge and offer support to the campaign which takes as little as 2 minutes to do.