PRESS RELEASE (For immediate release)
Major Breakthrough for Patient Choice: New Anxiety Treatment Available for the First Time in NHS Primary Care
General Practice Alliance (GPA) in Northampton is the first NHS provider in the country to offer a groundbreaking new treatment option for people suffering with symptoms of anxiety. GPA, in partnership with Spring Social Prescribers, is now offering the Alpha-Stim AID, a safe, clinically proven and approved medical device for patients to use at home for up to 8 weeks.
The Alpha-Stim AID is a mobile phone-sized handheld device that uses Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation (CES). It calms and relaxes the body through tiny electric currents applied via soft pad clips to both earlobes, for up to an hour a day. The treatment is non-invasive, medication-free, and can be used in conjunction with other treatments. Anxiety disorders such as generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), phobias and panic disorders are common, with up to 33.7% of the general population experiencing an anxiety disorder during their lifetime.
The Alpha-Stim AID has been reported to provide psychological support to patients who are able to use the aid at any time. Most of the participants who have used the device stated they had no side effects, and it could easily be incorporated into daily routines, often being used whilst doing everyday tasks, thereby lessening disruptions to daily life. Long-term benefits have been reported with sleep improvements maintained for a further 12 weeks after CES treatment was completed. Dr David Smart who is leading the team at GPA said: “During my thirty-year career as a local GP, I have seen the severity of impact symptoms of anxiety can have on people’s lives, and how common anxiety disorders are. Antidepressants and talking therapy treatments aren’t always acceptable or effective for everyone, Alpha-Stim AID offers an additional therapeutic option. Patients now have additional choice to use something that is accessible, effective, and simple to use at home.”
The use of Alpha-Stim AID launched on Thursday 1st of June. Eligible patients are those with long-term conditions which are impacting their wellbeing, and who are accessing support via the Spring Social Prescribing service in Northampton. Referrals to Spring can be made via the GP or as a self-referral through the Spring website. During the 8-week course of treatment, patients will have regular contact with their Social Prescriber, typically every 1-2 weeks. Data will be collected from patient wellbeing scores, case studies, and Social Prescribers to ensure the service offered is continually improved. Initially, there will be 20 devices available, with the aim to expand the service once local data has been collected which demonstrates the benefits to patients and to commissioners. Several successful NHS trials have already taken place including a study carried out by Northamptonshire Healthcare Foundation Trust (NHFT) published in the Open Journal of Depression. It concluded that ‘the implementation and use of the Alpha-Stim AID were found to reduce symptoms of anxiety and improve health status, and be feasible and acceptable to staff and patients.’
These results ‘support the availability of Alpha-Stim AID as a treatment option for people with symptoms of anxiety.’ A study published this year focused on the experience and impact of using Alpha-Stim AID via in-depth interviews and found that most participants said the Alpha-Stim AID had a positive impact on their lives and that they would recommend it to others. GPA and Spring found that previous results were mirrored in a study they took part in, which was published in the Mental Health Review Journal. A total of 33 adult patients (average age 42 years) completed six weeks of Alpha-Stim AID use. The results showed that use of the Alpha-Stim AID provided significant improvements in health-related quality of life. Sinead Galvin, Spring Administrator said: “I’m really proud to be part of a project that offers people new choices and innovative ways to look after their mental health. The positive results and feedback from the people who used Alpha-Stim AID during the research project surpassed my expectations. I had no idea that a piece of equipment the size of a phone, could have such a big impact on people’s lives.”
GPA has submitted a partnership bid to Public Health extend the service further. The use of Alpha-Stim AID in Northamptonshire is expected to be a catalyst for widespread use throughout the rest of the United Kingdom.
For more information about General Practice Alliance’s social prescribing services and the Alpha-Stim AID please visit: https://northantsgpalliance.com/services/social-prescribing-link-worker-service/