A group representing nurses trained in Substance Misuse Treatment Services has said some people can’t access proper treatment quickly enough because their members have not been given the green light to prescribe drugs like methadone.
The Health Research Board has previously said that in Ireland, where independent nurse prescribing of opioid substitute therapy (OST) is currently not permitted, the rate of drug-related deaths is high at over 3.5 times the European average.
The Irish national drugs strategy ‘Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery, 2017-2025’ said the feasibility of nurse prescribing of OST should be explored. Previously, the Department of Health said it would satisfy the strategic objectives of Sláintecare, which include “increased access to person-centred and equitable healthcare nationally”.
However, no progress has been made towards that aim and the Ireland chapter of the International Nurses Society on Addictions said it needs to be prioritised by the next government.
Peter Kelly, board member of The Ireland chapter of IntNSA, said: “If the next government places a value on delivering safe and cost-effective treatment for people who are dependent on drugs then it is imperative that they amend the legislation around nurse prescribing of opiate substitution therapy and that nurse prescribing is fully operationalised in practice.
"Our membership informs us that people who are dependent on drugs are not able to access treatment in a timely manner with waiting lists in some community treatment services between four to six months. This is a very long time for a person with complex needs who is in the middle of an acute crisis.
Source: Noel Baker, Irish Examiner, 10th February 2020