Recovering alcoholic says he “would be dead” without help from treatment programme and is shocked to hear it is being shut down

Nick Charles was made an MBE for his servies to alcohol treatment.

Nick Charles was made an MBE for his servies to alcohol treatment. - Credit: Archant

A multi-award winning alcohol treatment service for Huntingdonshire will close after being told its funding has been withdrawn leaving staff and patients shocked and upset.

St Ives man, Lord Toby Jug, who describes himself as a recovering alcoholic, told The Hunts Post he would be “dead” without the support of the Gainsborough Foundation, which has its head office in Ramsey.

“Being a recovering alcoholic, I’ve nothing but the highest praise for Gainsborough and its valuable work, without them I’d be dead,” said Lord Toby who is also a political activist and leader of the Eccentric Party.

Lord Toby, has accused the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which had been providing funding, of “knowingly depriving people of efficient treatment programmes in favour of ticking boxes.”

The treatment programme, which has been recognised by the elite of the medical profession, including the Royal College of General Practitioners, was set up by Nick Charles in 2008. Mr Charles has also battled alcohol problems, but has been sober for 40 years, and wrote the programme while he was living in a Salvation Army Hostel in London. He was awarded an MBE for his services to alcohol treatment.

He said: “We should be in mourning, not for the loss of Gainsborough, but for the loss of an extraordinary breakthrough, first in the recognition of the parameters of an illness that has baffled medical science throughout history, but more tragically for the loss of a breathtaking treatment process.”

When asked if he could describe alcoholism, Mr Charles replied. “Alcohol is a drug, and drugs change personalities. Some people simply smile more after a sensible measure. Others suddenly develop characteristics missing in their normal functioning behaviour, such as extra confidence. Terrifyingly, for too many, this opens a door to an inner world of wonderment that forms the beginning of a destructive journey to a place worse than hell could ever be.”

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Mr Charles also expressed his fears for those struggling with alcohol problems and cast doubt on whether other treatment programmes would be successful.

“They will struggle to deal with the conundrum of how to fund their area of the alcohol problem, particularly at a time of financial constraint,” he explained.

The foundation currently has 42 patients on its books, who have come from GP referrals. Their treatment will be transferred to other services after March 31. Another 30 people use the service intermittently.

The trust appealed the CCG’s original decision and did win a review, but has been told funding will cease at the end of next month. Mr Charles and his team are hoping they can attract some private sector funding.

In a statement, the CCG’s chief officer, Tracy Dowling, said: “The CCG has taken the decision to serve notice on the alcohol support service provided by the Gainsborough Foundation for patients in the Huntingdon area. Although the CCG has previously funded alcohol support services from Gainsborough, the funding transferred to Cambridgeshire County Council in 2013. Inclusion is the organisation commissioned by CCC to provide these services across all of Cambridgeshire. The CCG receives a fixed budget to buy and provide health services for the entire local population. Like all Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) up and down the country, there is greater demand on our budget than we have the budget to spend. We need to look at all our services, and can only commission those we have the funding and responsibility for. Our priority is to ensure that patients can continue access to support services when they need and will work with our partners and service users to ensure this happens.”

INFO: Businesses or organisations wishing to offer financial support and sponsorship, should contact Mr Charles on: 07809774769.