Substance dependency in the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board is a significant challenge, with dependency to prescribed hypnotics, anxiolytics, pregabalin and opioids a particular issue. In collaboration with the health board, a novel service based at Mayberry Pharmacy, Newport, has been developed, in which they work in partnership with local GP practices to support patients with substance dependency issues.
The service involves Jonathan, as a pharmacist independent prescriber, based in the community pharmacy, offering a managed drug withdrawal service for patients that are addicted to prescribed medication. Patients are identified by the GP practice and are subsequently referred into the service. Thereafter, the key aspect of the service is in building a strong rapport through 30-minute appointments with the patient based on honesty and trust and motivational interviewing techniques, allowing the patient to guide their own treatment pathway often via ‘step down’ prescribing.
Much of the training of the staff in relation to the initiative has been addressing myths around addiction – ensuring that they recognise the patients’ challenges and treat those experiencing substance dependency in the same way as they would any other patient i.e. demonstrating understanding, empathy and patient-centered care.