Drink and Drugs News DDN May 2020 - Page 4

NEWS ROUND-UP Government issues COVID-19 guidance for treatment services and providers G uidance for commissioners and treatment providers during the COVID-19 outbreak has been issued by Public Health England (PHE) and the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC). While services don’t need to close they should keep face-to-face contacts to a minimum, it says. Given the pressure on the NHS and other services it will be necessary to defer drug detoxes, the guidance states, as well as scale back testing for hep C. Provision of harm reduction measures such as NSP and take-home naloxone, however, should be increased where possible, while arrangements for prescribing and dispensing will change to take account of social distancing, pharmacy closures and staff availability. Service users should be told not to turn up without an appointment, and staff should contact them before their appointments to check if they’ve developed symptoms. Providers should also liaise with local hospitals to ‘ensure they are aware the symptoms of COVID-19 may be confused with withdrawal symptoms in a dependent drug or alcohol user’, the guidance adds. ‘It is important that anyone taken to hospital and showing symptoms that could be either alcohol or drug withdrawal or COVID-19 is managed as if they have COVID-19, unless and until the results of testing show otherwise.’ Providers, commissioners and pharmacies should be as ‘flexible as possible, within the legal framework, to support the safe delivery of OST’, it says, with services transferring ‘most, if not all’ patients from supervised consumption to take-home doses, and providing them with up to two weeks’ worth of supply where possible. Pharmacists may also be allowed to give out methadone, buprenorphine and other medicines containing controlled substances such as opioids or barbiturates without a prescription during the COVID-19 pandemic, following advice from the ACMD. Providers should also be monitoring reports of adulterated or unusually strong drugs or any unexpected effects, the guidance document stresses. ‘If usual drug supply routes are affected, there is a risk that alternative substances will be sourced and sold. Cases should be reported to drug.alerts@phe.gov.uk.’ COVID-19: guidance for commissioners and providers of services for people who use drugs or alcohol at www.gov.uk See news focus, page 6 'Drug and alcohol services do not need to close... and are important to keep operating as they protect vulnerable people who are at greater risk from coronavirus (COVID-19) and help reduce the burden on other healthcare services.' SDF launch online Scots COVID support Gambling ads suspended for 'safer' messages AN ONLINE TOOL to help people stay up to date with changes to treatment and pharmacy services has been launched by the Scottish Drugs Forum (SDF), We Are With You and Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs. Pharmacies and treatment services can submit weekly updates, which are shared through the lead organisations’ websites and social media channels. The database can also be accessed as a map to allow people to see what is available nearby. ‘It has been a real team effort to create a map of all Scotland’s drug and alcohol services’ revised arrangements during the COVID-19 lockdown,’ said We Are With You executive director Andrew Horne. ‘People can now see, at the click of a button, which services are being delivered across the country.’ www.sdf.org.uk/covid-19/service- delivery-changes/ BRITISH BETTING FIRMS will voluntarily remove their TV and radio advertising during the lockdown, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has announced. Existing advertising slots will be replaced by ‘safer gambling messages’, donated to charity or removed, says the council – the industry body representing betting shops, casinos and online gambling companies. The changes will come into force no later than 7 May and stay in place until at least 5 June, and will only be reviewed when lockdown restrictions are relaxed. BGC members account for around half of all gambling advertising on TV and radio, and the council says it hopes other operators will follow suit. Meanwhile, the Gambling Commission has issued advice on how gambling companies should keep consumers safe during the COVID-19 outbreak, and the RSPH has designed a confidential 4 • DRINK AND DRUGS NEWS • MAY 2020 ‘People can now see, at the click of a button, which services are being delivered across the country.’ ANDREW HORNE survey on behalf of the Gambling Health Alliance to help understand what impact the lockdown is having on those vulnerable to gambling related harm. Gambling Commission guidance at www.gamblingcommission.gov. uk/home.aspx. Survey at www.surveymonkey. co.uk/r/L9HBYBT The changes will come into force no later than 7 May and stay in place until at least 5 June, and will only be reviewed when lockdown is relaxed. WWW.DRINKANDDRUGSNEWS.COM