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Trust clinician co-author of national 'club drug' report

09 Sep 2014

An Ealing based consultant psychiatrist who works at West London Mental Health NHS Trust has co-authored a national report, published today, which calls for more investment in frontline services to treat users of club drugs.

Dr Christopher Hilton co-wrote ‘One new drug a week: why novel psychotic substances and club drugs need a different response from UK treatment providers’ with four other leading mental health experts across England.

The report, published by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, describes how health services are coming under pressure from an increase in the number of people who use substances such as methamphetamine, ketamine and ‘meow meow’.

Dr Hilton is one of the leads of the Ealing liaison psychiatry team – a service based at Ealing hospital which works closely with other organisations to provide support to patients with substance misuse problems while they are in hospital.

Dr Chris Hilton

Dr Chris Hilton

Dr Hilton said: “My team continues to see a number of patients in A&E and on medical wards who are suffering the toxic physical and mental health effects of these drugs, however our local drug services are not well equipped to offer them specialist care.

“There are few specialist services, including one in central London, but local patients rely on generic addictions teams.  However, patients tell us that they don’t think traditional drugs services are right for them, perceiving them to be primarily for heroin or alcohol dependent users.”

He added: “I’d like to see us further develop our model of care which fully integrates services, allowing the needs of patients in mental health and general hospital settings to be better understood by frontline staff and for them to be offered immediate appropriate care.

“This model, fully integrating substance misuse, mental health and physical health expertise, ensures rapid access to expert services in whatever setting patients present, whether that is the emergency department, psychiatric wards or in an outpatient clinic, such as a sexual health service. In our report we’ve highlighted the fact there needs to be a better way to quantify the challenges posed to the NHS by new drugs, and a need for a programme of enhanced education for clinical staff.”

The report recommends increasing public understanding of these substances as well as monitoring for trends around usage and treatment. It also suggests increasing training, awareness and support for healthcare staff in physical and mental health settings.

In addition to Ealing, our liaison psychiatry teams operate in Hammersmith & Fulham and Hounslow boroughs. The service also helps to improve the care provided to patients with overlapping mental health, physical health and addictions needs. We also provide other substance misuse and wellbeing services in the borough, including Smokefree Ealing.

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