About this event

  • Date and time Thu 23 Apr 2020 from 8:30am to 23 Apr 2020 at 5:30pm
  • Location Royal Society of Medicine
  • Organised by Pain Medicine

Please note this event has been cancelled.

Over the past few months, concerns have been raised that a potential opioid crisis’ has hit the UK, following the release of a report by Public Health England. 

The figures show there is in fact little relationship between the UKs problem and the opioid crisis in the US, but the report did identify an issue around the overprescription of painkillers and other prescription medicines in the UK, along with growing levels of addiction among patients. 


The morning session will explore the extent of the painkiller overprescription problem in the UK, how it has come about, and what the key drivers are.

Attendees can expect to:

  • Understand the context of the painkiller overprescription issue, looking at the drugs that are involved, the data and trends, and the scale of the problem.  
  • Explore the various reasons why this issue has surfaced. 
  • Explore key issues by those actively involved - featuring representatives from public health, pain medicine and affected areas. 
  • Gain insight and potential takeaway solutions on how to tackle the problem, and what needs to change. 


The afternoon session will focus on the challenges for clinicians around opioid stewardship in the UKalternatives to prescription, and education (for patients as well as colleagues).

Attendees can expect to:

  • Recognise regional variation in the prescription of opioids. 
  • Understand the efficacy of opioids as well as explore alternative medication, in terms of both benefit and harm. 
  • Agree on best strategies to explain the opioid problem effectively to patients, as well as colleagues.

Please note, lunch is provided ONLY to delegates attending both morning and afternoon sessions.

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Key speakers

Jane Quinlan

Dr Jane Quinlan

Consultant in anaesthetics and pain management

Speaker's biography

Jane Quinlan studied medicine and trained in anaesthesia in London before moving to Oxford. She is a consultant in anaesthesia and pain management at the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and is an honorary senior clinical lecturer at the University of Oxford. She is secretary of the Acute Pain Special Interest Group (APSIG) for the International Association for the Study of Pain and past chair of APSIG of the British Pain Society.

Jane has an interest in prescribed opioid dependence and was a core member of the Opioid Painkiller Dependence Alliance, a collaboration of pain and addiction specialists and patient groups committed to raising awareness of opioid painkiller problems and campaigning for dedicated services. She runs a clinic supporting pain patients in reducing their prescribed opioids.

Rosanna O'Connor

Rosanna O’Connor

Director of Alcohol, Drugs, Tobacco and Justice at Public Health England

Speaker's biography

Rosanna O’Connor is Director, Alcohol, Drugs & Tobacco within the Health and Wellbeing Directorate of Public Health England (PHE). Rosanna was previously Director of Delivery at the National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse (NTA). Having joined the NTA in 2003, she quickly assumed responsibility for all the agency’s operational activity.

Her interest in health inequalities of individuals and communities is based on extensive experience of local communities.

Amira Guirguis

Dr Amira Guirguis

MPharm Programme Director, Swansea University Medical School

Speaker's biography

Dr Guirguis originally trained as an accountant before gaining an interest to pursue a career as a pharmacist. She gained her PhD in the in-field detection of Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS).

Dr Guirguis pioneered the initiative of develop a ‘new’ concept for providing insight among pharmacists, other healthcare professionals and service providers of the completely new area of NPS which cumulated undergraduate and postgraduate pharmacy education modules and was the subject of recent Swansea University Podcast series. She was the 2014 winner of the JPAG’s Geoffrey Phillips award and the Principal Investigator of the first Home Office-licensed Pharmacist-led drug checking service in the UK. Dr Guirguis is now the MPharm Programme Director at Swansea University Medical School and is a known international expert in the field of drug detection.

David Nutt

Professor David Nutt

Imperial College

Speaker's biography

David completed his medical training at Guy's Hospital London, continuing in neurology to MRCP. 

After completing his psychiatric training in Oxford, he continued there as a lecturer and then later as a Wellcome Senior Fellow in psychiatry. In 1988, he set up the Psychopharmacology Unit in Bristol University, an interdisciplinary research grouping spanning the departments of Psychiatry and Pharmacology before moving to Imperial College London in December 2008 where he leads a similar group with a particular focus on brain imaging especially PET. 

Luigi Martini

Professor Luigi Martini

Chief Scientific Officer, Royal Pharmaceutical Society

Speaker's biography

Professor Martini is Chief Scientist for the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) where he ensures that the RPS stays at the forefront of medicines development and utilization. In this capacity, Professor Martini is often asked to comment in the media and with Government on topical issues such as Brexit, Drug Shortages, Cannabis, Antibiotic Resistance and Drug Discovery to name but a few.

Professor Martini is a registered practicing Industrial Pharmacist and a Fellow of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. Professor Martini also divides his time between the RPS and King’s College London as a visiting Professor in Pharmaceutical Innovation, after having held the Chair in Pharmaceutical Innovation at King’s for 5 years. Professor Martini is also Visiting Professor at the University of Bradford. Prior to his tenure in academia, Professor Martini spent over 17 years working at GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals, Roche Products Ltd. and Shire Pharmaceuticals working in a variety of technical, commercial, innovation based and medical affairs roles, directing groups in the United States, Europe and emerging markets.


Morning session 23 April 2020

Registration, tea and coffee
Welcome address

Session 1: Context and overview - what is the problem?

Chair: Andrew Gregory, Health Editor, The Sunday Times

Overview of pain prescriptions in a broader population context

Rosanna O'Connor, Director of Alcohol, Drugs, Tobacco and Justice, Public Health England

The perspective from general practice

Professor Mike Holmes, Vice Chair, Royal College of General Practice

Panel discussion
Comfort break

Session 2: Exploration of key factors

Chair: Andrew Gregory, Health Editor, The Sunday Times

Lived experience from patient - personal experience of prescription and addiction

Patient speaker

Local view from affected area, and the multi-agency approach to tackle the problem

Dr Claire Bradford, Medical Director, NHS Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group

Have patients got the message about the dangers of opioids?

Dr Jane Quinlan, Lead for Pain Medicine, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

The way forward - an overview of public health recommendations

Peter Burkinshaw, Alcohol and Drug Treatment and Recovery Lead, Public Health England

Panel discussion
Tea and coffee break

Session 3: What needs to change?

Chair: Andrew Gregory, Health Editor, The Sunday Times

Panel discussion

Panel session and audience debate, with speakers from the morning session giving their thoughts on potential solutions for what needs to change, before opening the debate up to the audience and building an ‘action plan’ based around key takeaways.

Close of the morning session

Full day delegates stay for lunch

Afternoon session 23 April 2020

Session 1: Opioids: The good, the bad and the damn right ugly

Chair: Nicholas Levy, Consultant in Anaesthesia and Perioperative Medicine, West Suffolk Hospital


Only for delegates that have booked both the morning and afternoon session

Geographical variation in prescribing

Ms Georgia Richards, Doctoral Researcher, University of Oxford

Weaning patients on opioids: Challenges or diversion, substitution and illicit drug use

Professor Luigi Martini, Chief Scientific Officer, Royal Pharmaceutical Society and Dr Amira Guirguis, Programme Director, Swansea University

Panel discussion
Tea and coffee break

Session 2: Evidence for efficacy of opioids and alternatives

Dr Sibs Anwar, President Elect, Pain Medicine Section, Royal Society of Medicine

Do opioids work?

Professor Andrew Moore, Director of Pain Research, Nuffield Department of Anaesthetics, University of Oxford

Alternatives - evidence for benefit as well as harm

Professor David Nutt, Faculty of MedicineDepartment of Brain Sciences, Imperial College London

Comfort break

Session 3: Solutions not problems: Education for all

Chair: Louise Clark, President, Pain Medicine Section, Royal Society of Medicine

Psychological complexity of patients

Dr Jane Quinlan, Lead for Pain Medicine, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Training our colleagues

Dr Helen Makins, Clinical Lead, Essential Pain Management UK, Faculty of Pain Medicine, Royal College of Anaesthetists

Panel discussion

Featuring speakers from sessions two and three

Close of meeting and drinks reception


Royal Society of Medicine, 1 Wimpole St, Marylebone, London, W1G 0AE, United Kingdom

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