Drink and Drugs News DDN July 2018 | Page 14


HigH risk strategy

Failure to provide naloxone at the point of release for most prisoners is putting lives at risk , says John Jolly

Those leaving prison having had an opiate problem are seriously at risk of having a life-threatening overdose or dying as a result of one . Both Public Health England ( PHE ) and the government have been clear in their recommendation that all local areas need to have appropriate naloxone provision in place . However , prisons have so far failed to implement provision at the point of release across much of the estate , and this is putting lives at risk .

Blenheim workers have found that it ’ s rare for any of our service users to be released from prison having been provided with naloxone , medication that is literally life-saving in the case of overdose . PHE ’ s strategy to reduce drugrelated deaths identifies discharge from prison as the point of maximum risk of overdose and maintaining contact with treatment services as a key intervention to stem the rise in drug-related deaths .
The NHS is responsible for provision of treatment services in prison , including naloxone , but refuses to take a national view . At one point the NHS even argued that as the prisoner would use naloxone outside of the prison it was not their responsibility , and each local authority should arrange to fund , provide , and negotiate arrangements for the supply of naloxone at the point of release . To expect them to do this with more than 100 prisons is something that anyone can see is ludicrous , but currently the NHS says it is for local NHS areas to decide .
It has proved difficult to get NHS England to provide clarity about what is going on as they are reluctant , or unable , to do so when asked . Below are a couple of replies given to questions by Grahame Morris MP that will have been prepared by officials for the government ’ s response .
QUESTION : To ask the secretary of state for health and social care , how many and what proportion of prisoners with a history of opioid misuse were provided with naloxone when released from prison in the latest year for which information is available ; and from which prisons those prisoners were released .
REPLY ( May 2018 ): Information on how many prisoners are provided with naloxone when released from prison in England is not currently available . This data is due to be published in 2019 .

‘ During the first week post-release , overdose deaths accounted for 85 per cent of all deaths ...’

QUESTION : To ask the secretary of state for health and social care , if he will bring forward legislative proposals to make the supply of the opioid-overdose antidote naloxone to all at-risk prisoners upon their release a mandatory requirement for prisons .
REPLY : Naloxone has a vital role in saving lives and the government is committed to widening its use in England . There is no national programme that mandates the supply of naloxone for at-risk prisoners on their release , and the government does not have any plans to bring forward legislation to make this a mandatory requirement for prisons . The commissioning of substance misuse treatment for prisoners is the
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