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Delivering OST During The COVID-19 Crisis: How to set up a Programme in Your Area

Delivering OST during the pandemic.

Following on from our piece on the innovative partnership OST delivery programme that is ensuring vulnerable service users in Dorset receive their OST, Jon Shorrock, Area Service Manager at NHS APA Member Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership Trust, and Will Haydock, Senior Health Programme Advisor at Public Health Dorset, provide advice on setting up a programme in your area.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Jon has learned that “the key is to involve a wide group of people as early as possible and to not be afraid to ask for things. If we hadn’t asked the Council if they had any staff available, we wouldn’t have had these delivery drivers... there are solutions that you wouldn’t have thought of, that other people will think of… If we'd just kept it as a narrow Health Service or Public Health conversation, we might never have known that there was that resource out there. So really throw open that conversation to anyone who might be able to help”.  

Ensure all partners are open and honest about what they can and can’t do

Jon also illustrates the importance of all partners “being open and honest about what they can do, and what they can’t do, and having that combined sense of urgency, alongside, flexibility and forgiveness.... I think we’ve got an atmosphere that’s really constructive, where people are able to say what’s working well and what isn’t, without there being that sense of blame. We’re all pulling in the same direction, which is great”.

Inform the police about what you’re doing

An important piece of advice from Jon is to ensure that service providers inform the police about what you are doing: “give them the registration plates of the drivers that have got methadone on them, and that way, if there are any problems, if the drivers were stopped for any reason, the police they can respond more quickly”.

Final thoughts

Will Haydock (Senior Health Programme Advisor at Public Health Dorset) explains that “the test will be how convenient and useful service users find the service, and do we manage to deliver? We won't know that for a few weeks really, in terms of the detail, but we’ll be looking to tweak it and fine tune it over the next few weeks to make sure it does what it’s meant to”.  

“It might be that this is only a temporary measure…there’s lots of talk about community volunteers delivering other prescriptions so it may be that we can link in with that. It may be that pharmacies, or NHS England, develop their own delivery system. But as a quick solution to a problem we are facing right now, it’s been a huge help”.



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