P-RESET, the GP Care Group's primary care drug and alcohol service is commissioned by the Drug and Alcohol Action Team in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets to provide the following in general practices in the borough:
- Opioid Substitute Prescribing
- Problem Alcohol use Identification and Brief Advice (IBA) (Excluding HE1)
- Primary care focused Annual Health Checks and Plans for those registered as having substance misuse problems. (Excluding HE1)
The impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic meant the suspension of face-to-face and non-essential practice work from lockdown in March 2020. For P-RESET this meant stopping annual health checks, and initially alcohol screening. Opiate substitute treatment (OST) review, at least monthly by the clinician, and prescribing for those in shared care continued, with remote consultations in partnership with RESET care coordinators, discontinuation of most supervised consumption and longer dispensing intervals because of infection risk for patients, the pharmacies, and the clinicians.
After lockdown, in June 2020, while it was clear that COVID-19 continue to be present, we needed to put in place a medium-term ‘restoration’ solution to deliver clear health outcomes for those vulnerable because of drug or alcohol problems in the COVID-19 context, whilst agreeing and effectively performing against newly agreed KPIs agreed with LBTH Drug and Alcohol Action Team (DAAT) commissioners. This was planned and then rolled out across quarter 2 2020-2021.
- As GP Practices went largely remote working, to continue effectively screening for alcohol, P-RESET with the support of one of our locality clinical leads, promoted the use of AccuRx to practices as they can batch screen patients for alcohol remotely for Audit C via message. This meant that our alcohol screening numbers remained largely the same throughout the pandemic and we reached our annual target of 35% for patients with the most recent AUDIT screen 20+ who are referred to RESET Treatment Service.
- Alcohol Awareness Week 16th-22nd November - For Alcohol Awareness Week, P-RESET sent an email campaign to practice staff which included facts about alcohol, the importance of screening, sharing stories, and relevant signposting.
- Despite the pressures of the pandemic, our practices achieved 77% of patients eligible for Cytology Screening, a great achievement.
Despite this disruption, we have still managed to provide continuity for the patients in shared care for Opiate Substitute Treatment across our practices in the borough (around 220).
We thank our practices for continuing to support our vulnerable patients. The Care Group supports the objectives of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets with their commitment to providing a support and treatment system that equips our patients with the tools to build their capacity and move towards a life where drugs and alcohol do not negatively impact their lives.