Drink and Drugs News DDN February 2020 - Page 12

NNEF CONFERENCE NATIONAL FORUM FO Delegates at the National Needle Exchange Forum’s annual conference heard inspiring examples of taking harm reduction to the next level. James Pierce reports. Photography by nigelbrunsdon.com M ore than 200 delegates from all over the UK returned to Birmingham for the National Needle Exchange Forum’s (NNEF) annual meeting in December. Perhaps the most important part of the day was the call to action to raise support for the inclusion of drug treatment services in the Health and Social Care Act, to ensure that local authorities provide 12 • DRINK AND DRUGS NEWS • FEBRUARY 2020 at least a ‘minimum package’ of NSP and harm reduction services. There was significant support from attendees and the NNEF planning group agreed that this is something that the NNEF will be campaigning for in 2020. The first speaker of the day was Jane Bailey of West Midlands Police, who spoke about trials of intranasal naloxone – the first time police officers in the UK have carried the kits. There have been at least two successful reversals of opiate overdoses, and the West Midlands force is planning to share the results nationally to help build the evidence base. Next up was Stuart Smith, director of community services for the Hepatitis C Trust. He spoke about the move towards elimination of the virus and the importance of NSP and harm reduction services in achieving this. ‘Unless we continue to provide good harm reduction services then we are never going to reach elimination,’ he said. There was rousing applause for Daniel Ahmed, clinical partner South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, as he spoke about the heroin-assisted treatment (HAT) they are now providing in Middlesbrough (DDN, November 2019, page 5). He discussed the complex health needs of the ageing cohort in treatment services and the difficulty in selecting just 20 people to receive diamorphine treatment, when many more are failing to benefit from traditional treatment offers and are stuck in a cycle of using and criminality. The scheme appears to be successful and Daniel reported that ‘we have just seen a complete shift in how people are living their lives’. Claire Smiles presented an overview of her research into chemsex and issues around the knowledge and confidence of NSP staff in offering advice or even discussing the chemsex scene. Her research identified a significant knowledge gap, with some very poor and potentially dangerous advice offered by practitioners and discussions of pleasure and drug use being seen as challenging by some. However she also identified opportunities for services to think differently about how they offer intervention to the chemsex community and for a wider focus on inclusivity for LGBTQ communities. Dr Magdalene Harris of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine followed, describing her research into injecting and risk, particularly from the types of ‘water’ that some people who inject might use, risking skin and soft tissue infections. WWW.DRINKANDDRUGSNEWS.COM