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Gold, incentives and meh

GPs cut waiting list from 2 years to 9 weeks

Dr Steve Brinksman is part of a

160-strong team of GPs that has cut treatment waits for drug misusers from two years to nine weeks.

Dr Brinksman, who practises in Quinton, Birmingham, is a GP lead for the largest of England's drug action teams ­ the bodies brought in by the National Treatment Agency to improve treatment for misusers. It was praised in the agency's annual report last month.

The team pays 160 local GPs £75 per quarter for each patient in treatment. While this works out to be 'fractionally below' benchmark funding under the new contract's enhanced service, the team also pays for GP training, mentoring and surgery drug workers.

Dr Brinksman, who runs a substitute prescribing clinic for 30 patients at his practice, said: 'It was difficult in Birmingham ­ only a handful of GPs were prepared to treat substance misusers and they were swamped. But the whole philosophy is changing. Under 10 per cent of GPs were prepared to do substance misuse prescribing and we've now increased that to just over 25 per cent.'

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