Reducing opioids through supportive education

Stockport NHS Foundation Trust

This project was funded between January 2019 and August 2019.

  • Project led by Stockport NHS Foundation Trust, in partnership with Stockport Together, Viaduct Care and Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust.
  • Aiming to support patients living with chronic pain to reduce opioid use.
  • Will form an innovative, patient-centred, community-embedded support group to deliver safe opioid reduction through self-management support.

Nearly eight million people in England have moderate to severe pain, for which some will take opioid medication. The prescribing of opioids for non-cancer pain has increased significantly in the UK, but evidence suggests that opioids are only effective in the short term. Most patients become tolerant and some develop opioid-induced hyperalgesia. 

Opioid side effects and withdrawal symptoms can be devastating to patients and their families, and yet there is very little support and advice for patients wishing to stop taking them.

In Stockport, there is currently no cohesive approach to opioid reduction, with patients being seen by a number of different professionals and no groups tailored for people with chronic or complex pain.

This project will involve developing an education and therapy-based opioid reduction group to support clinicians such as pharmacists, GPs and secondary care specialists. 

There will be an online referral system; an education ‘hub’ to support patients and clinicians; opioid reduction groups led by a specialist nurse and an expert service user; one-off one-to-ones with one of the prescribing clinicians to draw up personalised reduction regimes; text-based follow up and support; and data collection of outcomes to ensure the benefits are being realised.

Initially a group of 20–30 patients will be recruited to the intervention, from a GP practice population of around 15,000 in the Werneth area of Stockport. If the intervention is successful, it will be rolled out across Stockport, which could help around 150 to 300 patients a year. 

Contact information

For more information about this project, please contact Dr David Crabtree, Consultant in Anaesthesia and Pain Management, Stockport NHS Foundation Trust.

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