DDN December 2023 DDN_Dec_2023 | Page 22



Turning Point ’ s latest Safer Lives Conference took place at a time of worrying changes in the UK drug market . The way we work will need to change too , says Deb Hussey


ovember saw us return to Birmingham for our second Turning Point Safer Lives Conference . A bigger event this year , with 200 delegates from across England , Scotland and Wales including colleagues from Humankind , With You , Change Grow Live , Cranstoun , BDP , Barod , Kaleidoscope and the Scottish Drugs Forum , as well as representatives from the police , NHS providers and public health .
The theme was ‘ Drug deaths are all of our business ’ and my hope was for us to come together and explore the role we all have to play in reducing the number of drug deaths , in a context of changing drug markets and increasing evidence of synthetic opioids entering the drug supply . It felt appropriate that we were in Birmingham , a city that saw an increase in overdose deaths across the summer .
With this year ’ s ONS data delayed , OHID ’ s Steve Taylor reviewed what we already know – drug poisoning deaths have doubled since 2012 , with older age ranges increasingly affected and deaths of women rising . Recent overdose death numbers saw concentrations in certain areas and involvement of nitazenes , which is unusual .
OHID ’ s action plan to reduce drug and alcohol deaths addresses five priority areas – within these there is a focus on improving treatment quality , expanding naloxone provision , improving toxicology , coroner reporting and information sharing , and the reduction of stigma in healthcare services .
There were presentations from the police , services that support family members , and the most moving presentation of the day from Pat Hudson . Pat told the story of her son Kevin , who tragically died of a heroin overdose in 2017 . ‘ Kevin was a sensible boy ,’ she said . ‘ If there was an overdose prevention centre in the town , I believe he would have used it and I believe he probably would be alive today ’.
Jenny Scott from the University of Bristol asked us to raise our naloxone in the air , reminding us of the importance of carrying a kit . Jenny presented her work on codesigning solutions to promote naloxone carriage with people who use drugs , including the innovations that came from this project – a poster campaign to raise awareness and challenge stigma and the Carry Naloxone app that tells people where they can pick up a kit .
Chris Rintoul , head of harm reduction at Cranstoun , explored what more we can do