Access to specialist substance use disorder treatment in rural and remote areas is limited. General practitioners (GPs) often have limited local referral networks to offer specialist support for people with complex needs. There can also be a shortage of appointments with doctors who are authorised to prescribe methadone and buprenorphine as part of opioid substitution therapy (OST), leading to low coverage and treatment delays.
Fly-in-fly-out models of specialist support are often used by local health districts (LHDs) to support increased access. This model is costly and may not provide adequate coverage or continuity of care. Prior to the introduction of the SVHS ADTS, MLHD relied on a fly-in-fly-out model of specialist support and a one day-a-week specialist clinic located in Wagga Wagga. This resulted in a waiting period of up to three months for people requiring input from an Addiction Medicine Specialist in many areas of the LHD.
The ADTS was launched as a pilot initiative in August 2019 to improve access to addiction medicine specialist services and build the capacity of drug and alcohol (D&A) clinicians in MLHD.
Since February 2021, SVHS has secured ongoing funding to act as an ‘Alcohol and Drug Virtual Care Hub’ to service rural and remote areas of NSW. This has enabled SVHS to continue service provision in MLHD, provide further support to WNSWLHD and also expand the service further to Southern NSW LHD (SNSWLHD) and Far West LHD (FWLHD). This report will focus on the partnership and service provision between SVHS and MLHD.
St Vincent’s Hospital Australia’s (SVHA) mission is to care for people who are poor and vulnerable. This service aligns to the mission, as a large proportion of clients with substance use disorders are identified as vulnerable.
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