(left to right): Michalina Ogejo (Clinical Pharmacist in the PICS Pain Management Service), Richard Sheldrake (Senior Clinical Pharmacist in Newark Primary Care Network) and Louise Morgan (Advanced Nurse Practitioner in the PICS Pain Management Service).
joannewakefield November 3, 2022

Innovative service improves the lives of local people living with chronic pain in Mid Notts

Collaboration between Primary Care Neworks and Out of Hospital Services highly commended in UK’s Innovate Awards

On Thursday 29 September, a local NHS service that helps people suffering from chronic pain was highly commended by a national scheme celebrating excellence in health and care innovation. People living in Newark, Ashfield, Mansfield and Sherwood who have been supported to reduce high doses of strong pain killers are now more likely to live longer and have reported a better quality of life, with one patient saying: “I sleep better now and can participate in all family events as I have not got brain fog anymore.”

Pain management specialists from local NHS provider Primary Integrated Community Services (PICS), work with Clinical Pharmacists, Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians who are based on General Practice Surgeries. Together, they identified and supported people suffering from chronic non-cancer pain. Focusing on what matters most to the patient, the team supported them to address the issues that reduce their quality of their life.

The project team engaged with local residents and clinicians to improve understanding of the risks and harms associated with long-term use of drugs such as Fentanyl and Morphine Sulphate. They explored what causes pain and how the body and mind respond to it, and practiced different, proven methods for managing pain and flare ups.

Over 180 people have been supported to reduce their doses of opioid medication.

21 people joined Opioid Clinics that were delivered at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and throughout lockdowns.

NHS staff are now offering enhanced care to new patients experiencing chronic pain following the advanced training resulting from the collaboration.

Many people living with chronic pain experience other health conditions and find it difficult to work, be active and participate in family and community life. More people in Mid Notts are on the highest levels of high-dose prescription levels than anywhere else in Nottinghamshire. However, long-term use of high-dose opioids carries severe risk of harm, shorter life expectancy and death, and there is little evidence of reduction in pain intensity or improvement in function from opioid use.

Ms K of Orchard Practice in Mansfield participated in the programme which included catching up with her local Primary Care Network Clinical Pharmacist every four weeks. After 12 months, Ms K had reduced her levels of prescribed drugs. She says:

“My pain did not change much since I weaned off the strong opioids I have used for years. I sleep better now and can participate in all family events as I have not got brain fog anymore. I am more aware of what is happening around me. It was a very tough process but I am so glad I did it. It was the best thing I have done for myself in years.’’

Dr Thilan Bartholomeuz, Clinical Director of Mid Nottinghamshire Place Based Partnership and a local GP, congratulated everyone involved saying,

“Chronic pain and effects of opioid treatment in non-cancer patients can be debilitating and limit an individual’s independence and quality of life. This is an exemplar for partnership working that addresses a significant clinical need using patient-centred care to reduce harm and improve patient outcome. Even more impressive was continuation of services during the pandemic. This is a template for Primary Care Networks to develop services within their neighbourhoods to meet the needs of its citizens.”

An NHS Confederation spokesperson said:

“The awards were judged by a diverse group of experts working across the health and care sector. The judges were really impressed with the standard of entries in this years’ awards so well done for standing out.”

The Pharmacy teams are part of the local Primary Care Network (PCN), which is a group of GP Surgeries working together to address specific local health needs by sharing additional funding from the NHS to provide new services for patients.

The opioid deprescribing service was listed in the category of “Innovation Helping Address Health Inequalities”, from hundreds of entries into the awards from across the UK.

The Innovate Awards are run by the NHS Confederation and Academic Health Science Network to recognise excellence in health and care innovation. New to 2022, the shortlists were announced in August and the winners were announced on Thursday 29 September 2022.