SMMGP - Substance Misuse Management Good Practice

Substance Misuse Management Good Practice

Supporting good practice in drug and alcohol treatment

Newsletter No 2 (June 1996)

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Consensus Statement

This was the unanimously agreed consensus statement of 78 GPs and 20 other health professionals working with drug users who attended the Managing Drug Users in General Practice Conference at the Royal College of General Practitioners at the end of April. This was the first national conference and forum for debate amongst general practitioners on the subject of drug misuse, focusing the debate on the role and function of General Practitioners in managing drug users. The conference appears to have demonstrated a need for GPs to have the mechanisms to dialogue and communication amongst each other around these issues. In facilitating this and offering a bridge to the isolation that many GPs expressed then the conference has begun an important process.

It is significant that the Conference was able to define a consensus statement, particularly in light of the Department of Health's Task Force Effectiveness Review of Drug Treatment Services in England and Wales, published on 1st May.

The Report section on General Practice concludes that GPs and their health care teams have an important role to play in the provision of care to drug users. In particular:

The Task Force did not see the expansion of shared care as an alternative to the current role of the specialist services. Some drug misusers will continue to need specialist support and counselling which it would be unreasonable to expect a GP to provide in general practice. However they do see value in the involvement of GPs in:

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Task Force Recommendations

The Task Force Recommends that:

Where the service is defined as exceeding the requirements of GMS, following consultation and agreement with the profession, the question of additional payment for the delivery of a specialist service needs to be considered.

Clearly the question of the role and function of general practice in managing drug users is on the agenda. But there are many issues within the broad sweep of recommendations that come from the Task Force that need to be addressed. If the issue of drug users in general practice is not simply to be a fashion then real attention needs to be paid to the needs of the GP in this field, and how they can be best supported. What the Conference demonstrated is that there is an increasing number of GPs becoming involved in this work, who are potentially isolated and overwhelmed by the task ahead. One of the strongest elements of the evaluation of the Conference was the value GPs placed on meeting like-minded GPs, breaking down this isolation and providing an opportunity to reflect on practice. Dialogue and communication were clearly strong themes.

We want to carry forward this energy and commitment, hence this newsletter. Yet, the newsletter's only value is the contact and communication it facilitates between us. So we want and need to hear from you. Models of good practice? Examples of effective shared care? Effective outcomes? What is shared-care, and how do we do it? Who is best treated in general practice? How you keep yourself sane?

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