FINANCE: Central and North West London Foundation Trust could close a high performing clinic that treats adults for substance misuse because it can no longer afford to run the service.

Trust board papers this month revealed that its 18 bed Max Glatt Unit could be shut because its running costs outstripped income from its contracts.

The clinic has lost around £600,000 a year for the past two years, rendering the service “no longer financially viable”, according to the papers.

Trust chief executive Claire Murdoch told the July board meeting that, while she hoped extra funding could be agreed, a “contingency plan” was needed.

The clinic closure proposal is one of several options on which the trust expects to consult the public and local commissioners, including the local authorities that purchase its services. Ms Murdoch told the board she had met with staff at the unit to explain why the decision to consult on the closure had been taken. She said: “We can expect high levels of protest against the closure of the unit from service users and others. It is a high performing, much valued service but market conditions are sadly such that we cannot run the unit at break even.”

A trust spokesman said: “We are exploring options to close the gap but cannot cover it from other trust contracts. The trust’s action is made with a heavy heart, and is purely because of the financial vice we are in.”

No date has been set for when a decision will be made on the future of the unit.

Ms Murdoch said it was with “deep regret” that the decision to consult on the closure of the unit had been taken.

She said inpatient substance misuse treatment “costs more per bed night than current contracts pay” and a change from block contracts to preferred provider contracts with “little or no guaranteed levels of income” has “created a situation where the Max Glatt Unit is no longer financially viable”.

A spokesman for Westminster City Council, which purchases beds for patients at the unit, said: “The decision over whether to close the Max Glatt unit is one for CNWL alone to make, however, we would like to see it remain open and look forward to considering the options CNWL puts forward in its consultation.”