Nurses to prescribe drugs in bid to speed up treatment for alcoholics

Have your say

HEALTH bosses are bidding to speed up treatment for alcoholism in Doncaster by getting nurses to do work traditionally done by doctors.

Balby-based Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust has brought in specially trained nurses to prescribe drugs used in the treatment of addition to booze.

Traditionally, a service user with an alcohol dependency would need to see a doctor to receive a prescription for medicines that help them detox and prevent cravings.

The new system, using nurses, follows a successful pilot scheme.

Bosses at the trust say it speeds up the process, so that the service users can be seen faster and receive their prescriptions sooner than they would have done under the previous system.

Before, a service user would typically need to wait seven weeks for an appointment – a wait now reduced to three weeks.

Dr Abhi Salvaji, clinical director for substance misuse services at the trust, said: “This might just seem like a commonsense approach but it is actually very innovative for this area of treatment.

“Medicines management is extremely important and prescribing for addictions is traditionally always done by a doctor.

“Our team decided nurse prescribing would be an effective way to improve our service and we are already seeing the benefits with service users being able to see a nurse and get their prescription quickly. A doctor will still see people who have more complex cases.”

The nurses involved were already working in the trust’s substance misuse service and were trained in prescribing and addictions at a course hosted by Sheffield University. The training included sessions on theory, at least 90 hours of supervised clinical practise, and exams.

Sharon Taylor, one of the newly trained nurse prescribers, said: “It has involved a lot of commitment but it is making a real difference for the service users and that’s what matters.”

The Doncaster alcohol service currently has 240 service users and is based at The Garage in Thorne Road. Anyone with an alcohol problems is advised to call their family doctor.