Keep nagging on naloxone, says the naloxone action Group
DDN listened to a lively lunchtime meeting of The Naloxone Action Group (NAG) at the RCGP conference, looking at barriers to naloxone distribution
A show of hands revealed that about half of the audience – many of whom were GPs – believed their area had naloxone, but as Chris Ford pointed out, ‘There are many areas of good practice but many areas where nothing is happening at all.’
‘What’s really making an impact is some brilliant grassroots action by people on the ground,’ said Blenheim chief executive, John Jolly. But Dr Judith Yates told the audience: ‘It’s shocking if people are prescribing methadone and buprenorphine and not naloxone.’ Naloxone distribution was ‘just so easy and we should all be doing it,’ she said.
Release lawyer Kirstie Douse shared the results of Release’s freedom of information requests to all Public Health England directors on whether take-home naloxone was provided in their areas. The findings produced 47 ‘yes’ answers, 80 ‘no’ answers (with ten of these due to be rolled out), with no response from 25 areas. (Some areas had made progress since the survey.)
Release’s website (www.release.org.uk) offered advice to overcoming barriers, ‘but we need to take it forward at a local level’, said Douse. ‘We’re happy to help with letters and guiding you through it.’
The session also identified a discrepancy between areas that said they had naloxone but were not actually distributing it. This situation could be improved by identifying local champions, said Ford – ‘so if you haven’t found one, get one!’
Kevin Ratcliffe, a consultant pharmacist in Birmingham, said his team knew of at least 40 people who wouldn’t still be walking round the city without naloxone. Alongside improving awareness among prescribers and commissioners, he advised creating simple supply routes with fewer opportunities for patients to drop out – ‘it’s hard for patients to get to different appointments to get it’.
Training should be given to ‘absolutely everybody’ he said, and there were plenty of training packages that were free to download, including the e-learning module at www.smmgp.org.uk.
A targeted approach to distribution could start with prisons and hostels, he said, but should be inclusive, and ‘service-driven at each hub by a naloxone champion’.