On Thursday 29 September, a partnership between PICS, Primary Care Networks and GPs in Mid Notts was highly commended by the 2022 Innovate Awards for a project to reduce opioid dependency and help people suffering from chronic pain to have a better quality of life and live longer. Our deprescribing service was commended for using innovation to help address health inequalities. The Innovate Awards are run by the NHS Confederation and Academic Health Science Network to recognise excellence in health and care innovation. A finalist in the category of “Innovation Helping Address Health Inequalities”, the project was highly commended in a competitive category celebrating projects from across the UK.

The de-prescribing service launched in October 2020 to identify and support people suffering from chronic non-cancer pain living in Newark, Ashfield, Mansfield and Sherwood. Specialist clinicians from PICS who support people living with long term pain worked closely with patients, Pharmacists, Pharmacy Technicians, GPs, nurses and Practice staff to enhance care for patients.  

Our approach focused on what mattered most to the people experiencing chronic pain and the quality of their life. Everyone involved improved their understanding of the risks and harms associated with long-term use drugs, alongside the benefits of reducing high doses of opioids. Using a variety of engagement methods, citizens and clinicians learned new, proven methods for managing pain. 

  • Over 180 people have been supported to reduce their doses of opioid medication and make informed choices from a variety of proven pain management techniques. 
  •  21 people joined Opioid Clinics that were delivered at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and throughout lockdowns.  
  •  NHS staff involved in the project who prescribe opioids are now offering enhanced care to new patients experiencing chronic pain.   
  • Between November 2020-2021, Primary Care Network staff reduced over 60 high dose opioid items per 1,000 patients.  

The Mid Notts area has had the highest levels of high-dose prescription levels in the county for many years, but long-term use of high-dose opioids carries severe risk of harm, shorter life expectancy and death and there is little evidence of reduction in pain intensity or improvement in function from opioid use.  

Dr Thilan Bartholomeuz, Clinical Director of Mid Nottinghamshire Place Based Partnership and a local GP, congratulated everyone involved saying,

“Chronic pain and effects of opioid treatment in non-cancer patients can be debilitating and limit an individual’s independence and quality of life. This is an exemplar for partnership working that addresses a significant clinical need using patient-centered care to reduce harm and improve patient outcome. Even more impressive was continuation of services during the pandemic. This is a template for Primary Care Networks to develop services within their neighbourhoods to meet the needs of its citizens.”

A Confederation spokesperson said:

“The entries were of a very high standard with 194 entries competing across ten categories. Judges evaluating the submissions commented on the impressive and inspirational work taking place and have selected (this) project as one of the best in your category.”

The winners were announced on Thursday 29 September at an awards ceremony in London. The visual below describes the project in more detail.

Talk to us about the project

Contact Michalina Ogejo, Pain Management Pharmacist in PICS: michalina.ogejo@nhs.net.