Chair Update

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Hi all, it’s been a while!

We have all been really busy and I am sorry for not sending an update since last year.

I am glad our membership has gone up and we can’t wait to meet our new members, hopefully in person, soon enough.

So what has been happening within our field? Some very good things but, alas, some not so good. We at the NNEF know of some amazing, life saving projects that will become public in 2023 (Editors note: that previous sentence isn’t the original one… we had originally had a whole paragraph highlighting some fantastic projects, but then we remembered they haven’t been announced publicly yet… so yeah… 2023). On the flipside, the Middlesbrough diamorphine assisted treatment project has had to stop due to funding issues. Such a shame as Diamorphine Assisted Treatment clearly works in reducing street heroin consumption/crime/infections etc… It really is a no brainer. But money talks, as always it seems.

The buprenorphine depot injection is becoming more widely used and I’m sure it is a welcome product for some people that are sick and tired of supervised and/or daily consumption, in front of a pharmacist or dispenser (and at times, sadly, an entire shop).

Glad to hear the Dame Carole Black Review has managed to “inject” some much needed cash into drug treatment services. Let’s hope it is spent wisely, very wisely. I guess time will tell but it will be interesting to look at Drug Related Deaths in, let’s say, two years’ time. The proof is the pudding after all.

It still baffles me, in this day and age, when people have to wait, sometimes for up to six weeks (or more), in order to get on OST. Some of our European colleagues cannot understand why either. They ask me: “do you have doctors? Yes. Do you have prescription pads? Yes. Do you have methadone/buprenorphine products? Yes. Then why do you make people wait? I’m not entirely sure…” Some prescribers tell me it’s because of ‘safety reasons’. If that’s the case, then why has the UK still got one of the highest Drug Related Death rate in Europe?

On another sombre note, we are seeing far too many HCV re-infections. The national NSP landscape is more than grim. More and more pharmacies have decided to cease their NSP provision. Some are putting limit on equipment given out (which is against NICE guidance). I’ve been told some are even charging if you have no returns. In certain parts of the Midlands, people are having to walk over an hour to get injecting equipment. This is simply not acceptable. How are going to try to eliminate HCV, by 2025, if people are having to share syringes? That’s only a couple of years away and so much more needs to be done.

On a positive note, the UK HSA have set up a NSP Monitoring Steering Group, which includes two NNEF members, so we should get a better picture of what is truly happening out there.

Ok, I will leave it as that for this year.

The NNEF crew is wishing you all a very happy festive period and are very much looking forward to see you in 2023!

Philippe Bonnet

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