I would like to start by thanking Jamie Bridge for all his hard work and dedication to the NNEF as Chair in recent years and I’m looking forward to taking on the role of Chair in 2017 and I’m delighted Jamie is continuing on the planning group along with Philippe and Nigel as Deputy Chairs.
Last month, we announced the 2016 Annual General Meeting for the National Needle Exchange Forum (NNEF) to all our members. Unfortunately, it has not been possible to organise a full-day meeting this year. But the AGM – which will be held virtually via teleconference – is at least an opportunity to hear about, and participate in, some of the work of the Forum. The AGM will be held at 7pm on Monday 12th December.
After years of advocacy, and months of consultation and discussion, legislation has finally been laid before Parliament this month to expand access to naloxone. Although ambiguously worded – as these things often are – it seems to indicate that, from October 1st, drug services will be able to supply and stock naloxone without the need for individual or group prescriptions.
As you may have seen in the media recently, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has launched new guidelines on medical injections and a global campaign to switch all medical and vaccination injections to syringes that cannot be used more than once. These “safety-engineered syringes” may, for example, include a weak spot in the plunger that causes it to break if the user attempts to pull back on the plunger after the injection. Others have a metal clip that blocks the plunger so it cannot be moved back, while in others the needle retracts into the syringe barrel at the end of the injection.
As NNEF members may already know we are part of the Naloxone Action Group (NAG). NAG is made up of a number of organisations who have come together to press for wider availability of naloxone in England. Today the group has sent out a press release encouraging support of an Early Day Motion and asking people to contact their MPs to ask them to be involved.
According to Public Health England, every time somebody injects drugs they should be using sterile equipment – including needles and syringes, filters, cookers and swabs. But the reality is somewhat different. People who inject drugs are often put off asking for the injecting equipment that they are entitled to because of negative experiences.
We have received the following alert from PHE: There have recently been a number of cases of wound botulism among people injecting heroin in Scotland. There has been a single recent case confirmed in England and, although it is currently unknown whether there is a cross-border link, these cases might indicate an increase in the overall level of heroin contamination.
In 2013 there were 765 deaths involving heroin and morphine in England – a sharp rise of 32% from the previous year. Many of these fatalities could have been prevented by the use of Naloxone as an intervention – this is a safe and effective prescription medicine that can reverse the effects of opioid overdoses.
Jamie Bridge the NNEF Chair was recently asked to be a speaker at TEDx in Bedford. Jamie spoke on the day about the need for a wider naloxone provision in England and the developing design of take home naloxone.
In October 2014, NNEF and Release have worked together to send ‘Freedom of Information’ requests to all 152 Directors of Public Health in England – asking them about their current needle exchange provision.
Here at the National Needle Exchange Forum (NNEF), we also moderate an open access
email discussion group to help connect our members and allies, and anyone interested in needle and syringe programmes in the UK. This is a Google group email list and we encourage anyone interested in getting more involved to join and connect with other likeminded colleagues.