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Health alliance extends program

More than 120 additional people across the Grampians, Loddon and Mallee regions will access medication-assisted treatment for opioid dependence.

In the face of chronic prescriber shortages, Orticare, based at Ballarat Community Health, developed a long-term strategy to use alcohol and other drug, AOD, nurse practitioners to deliver life-saving medication.

The change removes a need for people to travel large distances to access the support.

The success of the program was highlighted at the inaugural Alliance of Rural and Regional Community Health, ARRCH, conference at Creswick last month.

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Orticare Grampians Loddon Mallee Pharmacotherapy Network manager Pauline Molloy said there was a ‘bizarre’ situation of a chronic shortage of prescribers, while AOD nurse practitioners were not working to full capacity because there was no funding support.

“Orticare needed an alternative strategy and nurse practitioners were emerging as a workforce, so we advocated for ongoing funding from the government and Department of Health to address the concerns,” she said.

After an initial 12-month trial, the program was extended for another two years.

“In the first year we were able to see more than 120 new patients as well as being able to provide emergency responses,” Ms Molloy said.

She said there were challenges to finding and retaining staff, but she remained positive about the future of the service.

The entire November 15, 2023 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!