Guest blogger Laurie Windsor explains how an interactive e-mail group can help support GPs in a bid to increase the number of patients with substance misuse in shared care…
My name is Laurie Windsor and I’m a psychiatry higher trainee (Spr) who worked in the Substance Misuse service in North Devon up until August 2013. I wanted to draw your attention and perhaps stimulate debate about the different methods that I tried to increase engagement in shared care whilst I was there. There are a particularly low percentage of clients prescribed within shared care in North Devon (4%). I have written an article (available on the SMMGP web site) which discusses the different surveys and methods that I completed that helped to find out the reasons for this. The survey found that the main factors that might persuade GPs to get involved were easy contact with a psychiatrist, increased training and information, an ability to refer back easily to specialist services and increased funding.
Unfortunately in this climate I wasn’t able to offer increased funding! However I did begin a trial of an interactive email group that we thought might help with the other factors. It also helped maintain the training of the GPs who struggled to make the six monthly sessions provided locally. The difficulty attending was partly due to the relative isolation in this rural area and partly due to the time pressures that affect all GPs.
The Interactive Email Group is based on a systematic literature search that I completed on educational interventions for GPs in shared care. The main factors that were backed by evidence were good communication, sharing patient narratives and positive outcomes as well as maintaining skills, education and training by psychiatrists. I’m aware there are national on-line forums but experience in other areas, such as Recovery, has shown that local relationships and local training can have a significant added benefit.
The advantages of the Interactive Email Group can be summarised as:
- Quick responses from Consultant Psychiatrists and members of the drug team
- GPs can share experiences of clinical but also administrative problems
- Strengthen relationships between local GPs in shared care
- An easy place to offer and advertise further training
My experience shows that shared care works well when GPs communicate well with and feel supported by the secondary services. I wonder whether this could be an approach that might work well elsewhere. I also hope that my article will encourage practitioners to share what else has been tried and what has worked.
I hope people will read my article which will aim to shed some light on the factors that affect why GPs choose to get involved in shared care in substance misuse. Please contact me on email@example.com if you wish to have further information.
– Laurie Windsor