Tommy Canning, who works at Northlands Addiction Centre in Derry, said demand for residential treatment was on the rise.
The centre usually has eight beds for inpatients but because of Covid-19 restrictions only five beds are available at any one time.
“There are people out there not able to access services,” Mr Canning said.
When it reopened in May 2020 after the first coronavirus lockdown, Northlands had long waiting lists for those wishing to access residential treatment.
Funding provisions for a new addiction centre in Derry were outlined in the New Decade, New Approach deal, which led to the restoration of devolution at Stormont in early 2020.
Previously, Mr Canning said the pandemic had shown a new, bigger addiction centre in the city was needed.
Speaking to BBC Radio Foyle, he said that Northlands was operating at reduced capacity under the Covid-19 guidelines but demand for services in the north-west was on the increase.
“There is room here for eight beds but we were only allowed to use four up until very recently – we have now increased that to five,” he said.
“That is a 40% reduction in the amount of people that we can offer treatment to.
“In 2018 we had 64 people here for treatment and in 2021 so far we have had 29 people and we are just running into September – the need hasn’t gone down.”
Mr Canning said he believed treatment centres in the North of Ireland should be able to operate under relaxed restrictions.
“There could be some leniency and relaxation on things like social distancing or creating a bubble with people tested at regular intervals whilst they’re in treatment,” he said.
“The difficulty becomes with the movement of staff coming in and out of the centre because we don’t live here.
“It’s not straightforward but if there were ways around this to allow us to provide residential treatment for eight people at a time again and allowed us to see more people face-to-face then we would welcome that.”Tags: