RCGP 15th National Conference: Working with drug and alcohol users in primary care – Integrating practice and policy: Everyone’s business
When the Compass paper on Perceptions of Abstinence was accepted for presentation at this year’s RCGP National Conference in Glasgow, I was pleased. I had not attended the conference for a number of years and had always found it to be very informative and enjoyable.
This year’s conference did not disappoint. The main stage speakers were interesting and covered a lot of topics. It was particularly positive to hear the various views on the Recovery Agenda and the role of substitute prescribing, with GPs and treatment providers describing recovery as a journey that can include methadone and not, as I have heard elsewhere, about abstinence and residential rehabilitation alone.
The large number of workshops covered a wide range of topics. I particularly enjoyed a presentation by a European Social Fund project in Dumbarton (DACA) which employed ex-service users on minimum wage while they undertake training and work placements with a view to accessing longer term employment. The presentation was delivered by individuals who are involved in the project. The coordinator was a former service user, which was particularly inspiring.
Norma Howarth and I did not attend the free dinner that was provided as part of the conference as we were preparing for our workshop the following morning. The theme of the dinner was ‘A Taste of Scotland’ and it was suggested that people wear tartan. As you can see Dr Brian McGregor from our Hull and York prescribing services threw himself into the spirit of things.
On Friday, Norma Howarth and I presented our workshop to a smaller number than anticipated (the evening festivities had led to a number of casualties). The presentation went well and we had positive feedback, plus particular interest from Pete Burkinshaw, the National Programme Lead on Standards and Inspection for the NTA. I’m glad we didn’t know he was in the room before we started our presentation!
To illustrate the range of topics covered at the conference, the speaker preceding us was the Medical Director for the national England Rugby Union Team, who did a presentation on how he implemented a drug screening programme for the squad. This was in response to a famous player being publicly ‘outed’ as a recreational cocaine user. As this brought the game and the national team into disrepute, the Medical Director was allocated substantial funding to implement this programme. His presentation provided a totally different slant on substance misuse and, as an avid rugby fan, I found it very interesting.
Next year’s conference is to be held in Harrogate and we are hoping to have a greater presence. If any member of staff would like to suggest a workshop that is linked to Primary Care, please send an email to me at email@example.com.