GPs and SESLHD specialist drug and alcohol services

recent study was conducted on services provided by SESLHD drug and alcohol as part of a GP and Drug and Alcohol specialist service collaboration. The most common request from GPs was support for people with alcohol problems. While this group is generally employed with stable accommodation, this was often threatened by their alcohol use. However, early intervention and referral proved to help them cease or decrease drinking, maintain employment and housing, and improve their health and wellbeing. In turn, one of the most common requests from the Drug and Alcohol service was GP support for patients with opioid dependence. This was a group who had stabilised in treatment for opioid dependence (methadone and buprenorphine), whose mental health was stable, and who no longer required intensive specialist services. While many had unaddressed general physical health needs, they did well on transfer to GP care and their GP was able to easily manage their treatment for opioid dependence. Their physical health care needs were addressed and further specialist review after transfer was not required.

Further research was also completed around what GPs wanted from specialist drug and alcohol services. The research involved 35 GPs and it was suggested that they wanted more education on screening, assessing and managing alcohol and other drug issues, and they noted the need for greater skills with alcohol, stimulants and high risk prescribed medications. Further, GPs wanted the following support from specialist services;

  1. Durable referral pathways
  2. Easy to access specialist advice
  3. Timely discharge summaries and discharge planning for patients with complex needs
  4. Collaborative care assisted by experienced AOD consultation liaison nurses

The SESLHD has taken these needs on board, and their drug and alcohol service has worked with CESPHN to enhance durable referral pathways. These can be found in the Sydney and South Eastern Sydney Health Pathways. This not only makes finding the right referral path easier, but also helps with diagnosis and treatment planning.

SESLHD’s Drug and Alcohol Service has done a lot of work to ensure better communication with you as GPs, whether that’s via phone call, letter, or discharge summaries sent to the patient’s GP. They also have shared care and GLAD (GP Liaison in alcohol and other drugs) nurses to provide expert nursing support for you and your patients. We encourage you to write referrals directly to their service. While addictive behaviours such as gambling and gaming are not core to their drug and alcohol service, they do on occasion see these people and can refer them to expert services through NSW Gamble Aware.