Winners of the 2009 RCPsych Psychiatric Team of the Year
The Bridge Substance Misuse Service,
Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust
The multidisciplinary team of 21 at The
Bridge (Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation
Trust), part of Solihull Integrated Addiction Services,
treats problem drug and alcohol users in Solihull.
They offer care-planned biopsychosocial
treatment to patients and support carers. They are also a
centre for teaching, training and research.
Dr Sanju George, consultant at The Bridge, set
an ambitious objective for the team - no preventable deaths from
overdose for any of the team’s 300 Class A drug-using
Dr George led the team to comprehensively
review the systems and practices to identify where risks of
overdose or major health complications could be reduced.
They jointly worked with other agencies to
improve patient safety. They introduced new initiatives
including patient education, in-depth physical health examinations,
including ECGs and a phlebotomy service, new treatment pathways,
prescribing audits, carers’ clinics run by the consultant and
intensive training for staff, patients and carers in overdose
management and administration of Naloxone (an opiate antidote to
From January 2007 to December 2008 (the period
covered by the 2009 RCPsych Psychiatric Team Award), no patient on
substitute medication died from overdose and many were identified
with potentially serious illnesses, which were treated. Their
initiatives are being replicated across other projects.
They achieved a major change in culture and
practice at very little cost, with almost everything achieved
within existing resources.
Their project is unique in including a whole
range of interventions, some simple and others ambitious, so that
every opportunity is taken to reduce the risk of overdose: from
ensuring compliance with existing policies to patient and carer
education and involvement. Their measures span all areas from
prevention training, screening and fast tracking through to
life-saving emergency treatment to prevent overdose.
Everyone involved – users, carers and staff –
enjoy the comfort of knowing that their drug users are safer as a
result of the thorough overhaul of systems and the introduction of
new preventative measures across all agencies.
Dr George and the team were also recognised
when they won four national awards, including a prize of £10,000 to
expand their Naloxone project.
Want to know more?
If you would like to find out more about The
Bridge Substance Mis-use Service, or want to contact the
team lead, please contact Liz Cowan.