the campaign is about – motivating people to find out more about overdose prevention and intervention with naloxone .’
The initiative has been welcomed by Release , whose executive director Niamh Eastwood states that widescale availability of naloxone and public education on how to use it should be at the ‘ cornerstone of any response ’ to the UK ’ s ‘ shameful ’ record on protecting the lives of people who use drugs . Previous research by the organisation had found that while all but three of the 152 local authorities who responded to an FoI request on naloxone provision now supplied it , the amount actually being given out remained ‘ drastically insufficient ’. In 2017-18 , just 16 take-home kits were provided for every 100 people using opiates , with many areas failing to provide kits to the people most likely to need them ( DDN , March 2019 , page 4 ).
The hope is that with more money finally coming into the system , some of it specifically earmarked for naloxone provision ( DDN , February , page 4 ), access can be improved . ‘ Drug service staff can provide naloxone to anyone without a prescription , and the availability of nasal naloxone now makes it easier for more people to use naloxone ,’ PHE ’ s alcohol and drug treatment and recovery lead Pete Burkinshaw tells DDN . ‘ It ’ s vital that local areas have good naloxone supplies in place and government recently provided additional drug funding to local authorities , some of which will be used to increase the provision of naloxone . We know that getting more naloxone into the community will help save lives by preventing unnecessary opiate overdose deaths . This campaign will help to raise awareness of the life-saving potential of naloxone through powerful real-life stories .’
The aim now is to allow the campaign to continue to develop and hopefully be rolled out again , says Malloy . ‘ It may be that it inspires government public health agencies to see the importance of publicfacing communication around accidental overdose , much in the same way as it does other public health matters .’
‘ It ’ s about putting your passion behind a campaign that ’ s giving people the opportunity to save and improve lives ,’ says Collingham . ‘ But the journey isn ’ t finished . Beyond the “ save a life ” message is the ambition for a nationally funded naloxone programme . It should be as second nature as giving out methadone .’ DDN
See the full range of posters at https :// naloxone . org . uk /
This article has been produced with support from Ethypharm , which has not influenced the content in any way .
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The recent SMMGP conference heard how both the police and the ambulance service were helping to improve access to life-saving naloxone
The unfortunate and startling reality is that the drug-related death rate in Scotland is three and a half times that of our neighbours in England and Wales , and the worst of any European country ,’ Julie McCartney , clinical effectiveness lead for drug harm reduction in the Scottish Ambulance Service , told the conference .
More than 90 per cent of deaths involved someone having multiple substances in their system , she said . ‘ Poly-drug use , unfortunately , is certainly the norm in Scotland , and more often than not it ’ s a toxic mix – a combination of central nervous system-suppressant drugs that contribute to the fatality .’ The use of naloxone to ‘ remove opiates from the poly-drug use equation ’ was enough to keep someone alive until the emergency services arrived , she said .
Each year the Scottish Ambulance Service received around 20,000 calls related to overdose and drug poisoning , and in 2019 responded to 5,000 calls where naloxone was administered by the ambulance crew . ‘ Our naloxone administration has almost doubled since 2015 – following the trend of drug-related deaths , unfortunately ,’ she said .
The Scottish Ambulance Service had a seat on the Scottish Government ’ s Drug Deaths Taskforce , and an ability to provide naloxone kits to people and communities that could be hard to reach by other services . It had also run a successful pilot project in Glasgow where paramedics distributed take-home kits to people at risk – and provided training in responding to overdose – which had now been re-launched on a national level .
The national training programme had a variety of options to allow the service ’ s 3,100-strong crew to complete their training in the most convenient way , including face-to-face and digital sessions , with Ethypharm providing extensive training materials . ‘ The partnership approach and robust communication pathways that we ’ re putting in place are absolutely essential in our national fight to reduce drugrelated deaths ,’ she said . ‘ We ’ ll continue to work alongside health boards and alcohol and drug partnerships across the country to make sure we ’ re able to share really relevant and meaningful data to support the allocation of resources where they ’ re needed most .’
As well as a take-home programme , Durham Constabulary had been using naloxone in its custody suites and officers were also carrying kits themselves , said temporary chief inspector Jason
Meecham . ‘ Problematic drug use is a significant issue in our area – according to ONS the North East has had the highest rate of drug misuse of any English region for the past seven years .’
There had been a spate of opiate overdoses in the force ’ s custody suites in 2018-19 , he said . ‘ In conjunction with the county council ’ s public health team we looked at bringing naloxone into the suites , as that ’ s what the ambulance crews were using .’ Working in partnership with the county council , local drug services and Ethypharm , all custody staff were trained to safely administer naloxone , including after-care .
More than 200 police officers and civilian staff had now been trained , he said , with naloxone ‘ used across all our sites really successfully ’. After the pandemic led to concerns around increased numbers of methadone prescriptions potentially leading to more overdoses , the decision was made to provide personal issue naloxone kits to officers in a position to respond quickly . ‘ We now have a wide spread of police officers around County Durham and Darlington who carry naloxone , and it ’ s been used on quite a few occasions , either in police stations , out on the street , or where we ’ ve responded to reports of overdoses before the ambulance crew . It ’ s important to say we ’ re not replacing the ambulance crews here – it ’ s just if we happen to be there first .’
A third strand of the work was take-home naloxone , he said . ‘ We ’ d identified quite a lot of people we see in custody who quite clearly don ’ t have frequent contact with their GP or drug treatment services , but who do have problematic drug issues .’ The programme had been rolled out following extensive legal discussions , he explained . ‘ I believe we ’ re the first force in the country where trained and authorised police officers are giving it away – there are others where custody staff are doing it – and it really is a partnership approach with the county council ’ s public health team . Between us we agreed on the identification criteria for possible recipients , and the training and guidance requirements .’
While people could view a training video and receive appropriate referral material for drug treatment services there were ‘ absolutely no strings attached ’, he stressed . ‘ If they want a kit and they ’ re eligible – and it ’ s quite wide eligibility – they will get given a kit , and there ’ ll be no further contact from us or treatment services . It ’ s all about trying to get it into the hands of people who need it the most .’ DDN
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