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
14 | drinkanddrugsnews | July / August 2018 www . drinkanddrugsnews . com
Failure to provide
naloxone at the point of
release for most
prisoners is putting lives
at risk, says John Jolly
hose 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