Directors of the Drug and Alcohol Health Integration Team (HIT) Dr Kyla Thomas, Thara Raj and Dr Tim Williams reflect on the HIT’s work in the past year.
During the last year, HIT members have been working together to develop evidence-based services to improve the health of people dependent on drugs and alcohol. We have been doing this in collaboration with our partners from Healthier Together (the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Sustainability and Transformation Partnership).
Our team has designed an intervention to reduce blood stream infections among people who inject drugs. We will be doing more piloting in the year ahead and sharing our findings widely. Public Health England’s national report about this issue referenced our low dead space syringes project, forecast to result in considerable cost savings for the local system.
Our workshop on 4 March 2020 brought together a wide range of partners to discuss how to address prescription opioid dependence. We gathered rich feedback, which we will now turn into action, with our West of England Academic Health Science Network partners. We published two papers from the related HIT research in the British Journal of General Practice. The research was also referenced in Public Health England’s national report.
HIT members also organised 'Take Drugs Seriously' – a public engagement series 23-25 January 2020. Events were well attended and successful in highlighting local research and efforts to improve services and policy.
Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group has invited a business case for introducing rapid access to alcohol detox from acute settings. If successful, this new model will learn from good practice in other regions to support our acute hospitals with a specialist detox service. It has considerable promise to improve the wellbeing of people drinking and to reduce the number of admissions to local emergency care services. To further our work on best practice in alcohol detox, a network meta-analysis of community alcohol detox led by Professor Matt Hickman has been submitted for review.
Finally, we are grateful to have regular involvement in our HIT Steering Group from Developing Health and Independence (DHI) service user peers and a carer of someone who used drug services. Their involvement has already helped us prioritise issues to explore in interviews for research projects and added a focus on the family/carer role in helping to reduce blood stream infections.
As ever we appreciate the commitment and support of HIT members in improving lives for local people. Despite the unprecedented challenges we face in responding to COVID-19, and the far-reaching impacts it will have; we trust that the HIT’s networks and energy will be used to good effect in meeting this task.