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A “waiting list crisis” among heroin users seeking methadone in rural areas underlines the need for nurses to be allowed to prescribe the drug, a leading addiction expert has said.
Dr Peter Kelly, assistant professor in mental health nursing at Trinity College Dublin, described as “extremely frustrating” the ongoing resistance within the Department of Health to nurses prescribing methadone, despite 14 years of campaigning and widespread use of the practice across other EU states and the UK.
He is urging the newly appointed Minister of State for drugs, Hildegarde Naughton, to urgently review a decision by her predecessor Frank Feighan that there was “no objective need for the introduction of nurse prescribing of opiate substitution therapy (OST)”. Mr Feighan stated this in a letter to Dr Kelly last month.
The Oireachtas Justice Committee last month urged an “evaluation of the role that non-medical prescribers could play in treating opioid addiction in Ireland, by increasing access to OST”. Other advocates for nurse prescription of OST include the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) and the drugs users’ group, Service Users Rights in Action (Suria).