Early intervention at Whittlesea GP clinics  for risky alcohol and drug use

Early intervention at Whittlesea GP clinics for risky alcohol and drug use

04 September, 2017

Eastern Melbourne PHN (EMPHN) has appointed drug and alcohol counselling service provider Caraniche to deliver a new $250,000 Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) service at four GP clinics in the City of Whittlesea. 

The AOD@theGP service will provide early intervention for patients with emerging problematic alcohol and drug use at the GP clinics, as well as telephone support to other GP clinics in north eastern Melbourne. The service aims to reduce ambulance call-outs, hospital admissions and chronic harm from substance abuse. 

One study found almost 14 percent of patients in emergency departments in Australia at 2am on the study morning were presenting for alcohol-related reasons. 

EMPHN CEO Robin Whyte said basing the AOD clinicians at general practices will provide a more holistic approach to health care for patients, bringing physical, mental, and drug and alcohol treatment together in one location. 

“AOD@theGP aims to respond to research demonstrating people with alcohol and other drug problems are less likely to receive appropriate care than people with other health problems such as mental illness, smoking related ill-health or chronic disease,” she said.  

Caraniche Manager of Drug and Alcohol Services Debbie Lindsey said Caraniche has 20 years’ experience in drug and alcohol counselling in custodial and community settings and will implement an evidence-based approach. 

“Early intervention in primary health settings has been demonstrated to be a highly effective treatment for people with alcohol and other drug issues,” she said. 

“Research has found that screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment to manage substance abuse has many health benefits for the individual.” 

About the AOD@theGP GP service: 

  • Four GP clinics in the Whittlesea LGA will have a Caraniche Clinician based at their practice for 12 hours per week enabling patients to receive an AOD intervention session with an experienced clinician at the clinic.
  • The patient’s GP will be provided with a same-day report detailing the patient’s psychometric test results and care plan.
  • Patients will have access to the services of a Recovery Support Worker to help them navigate the AOD services they require.
  • A secondary consultation service is provided for the four GP clinics to discuss the best treatment options for their patient with an AOD clinician. 
  • A phone service will be available for other GP clinics in north-eastern Melbourne to provide GPs with information and support including urgent assessment and appointments for patients in crisis. 
  • Family members who are concerned about a family member’s substance use also can receive consultations with an AOD clinician.

The clinics include Tristar Medical and Mill Park Superclinic, with two further clinics to be confirmed.