NNEF meeting held at Friend’s Meeting House in London on 25th February 2005.
Terry welcomed everyone and introduced Brenda Nash, Alan Neill and Pauline Rigby, who are involved in the Planning Group. He gave apologies from Jim Camp (chair), George Ellis (Healthy Options team), Julie Acton (Bridgend DAT), Rosemary Allgeier (National Public Health Service Wales). (Jenny Scott was later added to the list of apologies).
Terry thanked the sponsors for the day, Daniel’s Healthcare, Frontier Medical, and NHS Logistics.
Terry informed attendees that the production of water ampoules by Exchange Supplies, as mentioned at the previous meeting, was still awaiting legislative changes, but it was hoped that they would be available by summer.
Alan Neill reported back about the letter he had received from BD about the faulty needles that had been reported. BD has since closed down the factory where the faulty needles were being produced. A few people mentioned that they were still discovering faulty needles but it was agreed that these were probably from old stock.
Mari Ottridge reported that the DoH National Hepatitis C Action Plan was published last year. The plan outlines a very broad framework, with no extra resources identified. However, it does set out key responsibilities for named people, which is an achievement. She reported that those involved in the Action on Hepatitis C group feel that the group may have achieved its goals and may not continue in the same way in the future, but that she would keep the Forum informed about this.
Dawn Gordon from the NTA spoke about the audit of needle exchange services that the NTA will be undertaking between now and July. The aim of the audit is to determine the extent and nature of needle exchange provision in England, Scotland and Wales (with potentially some work in Northern Ireland also). Data will be collected both quantitatively (via questionnaires to DATs and pharmacy needle exchange co-ordinators), and also qualitatively through focus groups.
Ross Coomber discussed his part in this project, which is an in-depth case study that will be produced about an area in the South West. This will involve interviewing managers of services and pharmacy schemes, and DATs. The case study project will also involve interviewing service users and also intravenous drug users who are not currently using the service to determine what is working and what could be improved. It is hoped that this part of the project will add some depth to the rest of the service audit being undertaken.
Alan Neill asked the attendees if there were any issues they wanted to discuss regarding the running of the Forum. There was a question about what the role of the Forum had been historically, and how things had changed in the last few years. Some of the long-serving members of the Planning Group explained that it began quite informally but has developed into a more formal body over the years as the field of harm reduction and drug treatment has changed.
Alan asked the group what role they felt the Forum should be undertaking now, and some people expressed a desire for the Forum to be a means of sharing information and good practice between members, through tools such as a website. Terry agreed that this was important and the issue of the website would be discussed as part of the AGM.
There was some discussion as to the Forum’s role in lobbying or in research, and a few members of the Planning Group expressed the view that the UKHRA was already doing a lot of this kind of work and wasn’t necessarily the role of the Forum, but that some closer working between the two bodies might be useful. A few people expressed the view that the Forum should have a bigger presence, particularly at events such as conferences etc. Pauline Rigby explained that the lack of resources has meant that this kind of work has been difficult to undertake.
Ross Coomber referred to the draft Terms of Reference and asked what the strategies were for meeting the aims as listed. Terry responded that these would be discussed as part of the AGM, but that the Forum needed to establish a core Planning Group which could then examine the desirability and feasibility of obtaining funding in order to meet the aims of the Forum.
One attendee thanked the Forum Planning Group who have worked on the Forum for a number of years, and explained that the Forum had been extremely useful for her when she started working in the field of needle exchange.
Issues that people would like to be discussed or presented at the next Forum meeting included:
Mari Ottridge suggested that in order for the Forum to be sharing information it might be useful to share any information about service delivery or trends that emerges from the next Forum meeting with the NTA.
A potential date for the next meeting was set for 10th June, subject to the availability of a venue and the Planning Group, speakers etc.
Alan Neill asked people to please complete the questionnaires that they should have been sent by Jenny Scott.
Following the morning meeting members who wished to attended the NNEF Annual General Meeting.