Will Victoria’s troubled heroin treatment program survive?

Methadone and buprenorphine medication are globally recognised treatments for heroin and other opioid dependence. In mid 2021 there were 14,804 people on opioid pharmacotherapy in Victoria, with 1054 prescribers for them. We lost 386 prescribers in the last five years according to Health Department figures. Most prescribers are GPs relying on bulk billing Medicare fees which are inadequate. Support for opioid prescribers is patchy, often unfunded and disorganised. The work is becoming more complex, and staff burn out. A better team model should be developed. Greater access to addiction medicine physicians and trained nurse practitioners should work with GPs in multidisciplinary teams in community health settings. Adequate government funding is an important issue. Flexible funded and supported models will a keep GPs in the program and lead to better outcomes for patients. This presentation will outline the immediate fix as well as the longer term reform required.

Presenters

Benny Monheit, Addiction Medicine Physician, Southcity Clinic Alfred Hospital

Dr Monheit has worked in the drug and alcohol field for the past 33 years.
He trained at Monash and Sydney Universities and worked in the UK and various parts of Australia. Former lecturer at Department of General Practice at Monash University. Worked at Pleasant View, Moreland Hall and Alfred Hospital. Special interest is opioid pharmacotherapy. He is now nearing retirement