A north counselling service has been forced to strip back its offering, claiming funding pleas are being “entirely ignored” by NHS Highland.
Addictions Counselling Inverness (ACI) says the health board is its main funding partner, but has been left in the dark with “no knowledge whatsoever” on if it will receive any cash past the end of March.
The charity, which has been operating for almost 40 years, says a £102,000 grant from NHS Highland would keep it afloat for the next 12 months.
But, with six weeks to go until the end of the financial year, ACI says its future beyond the end of March remains completely uncertain.
‘£300,000 funding hole’
Addictions Counselling Inverness saw 237 clients over the course of 2021, estimating the value of free counselling offered at more than £300,000.
Chairman David Cameron says the organisation offers great value for money, at a time when services are needed more than ever.
In a letter to the NHS Highland board, he wrote: “The failure to support the charity going forward appears to pose at least a £300,000 hole in the health care of the Highlands – while saving only £430 per client helped by the charity.
“I’m not sure how the loss of the free counselling services offered by our charity will be counted in the social cost to our communities, policing costs and other GP and health care services in the Highlands.”
‘No other option’
Mr Cameron said charity bosses have been “open and accessible” for funding discussions with NHS Highland, but have received “no meaningful engagement” in return.
As a result, he says the organisation has been left “with no option other than to take the decision to suspend our service offer to new clients.”
The charity’s board has scheduled an emergency meeting for two weeks’ time, calling for a response from the health board to allow it to take “appropriate corporate decisions” about its future.
A spokesman for NHS Highland said: “NHS Highland works closely with a range of partners board-wide to develop our addiction services.
“We are actively working with partners to improve and enhance the provision of future services.”