Drink and Drugs News DDN March 2020 | Page 9

PING HAND safer injecting facilities and HAT. The drug consumption room immediately stumbled into difficulties over its legality – ‘we needed to make a case for it within the existing legal system’, which involved talking to Westminster. Meanwhile the drug-related deaths crisis was escalating, so an interim plan looked at implementing HAT. ‘We wanted to show we were offering a whole range of interventions, not just HAT,’ said Priyadarshi. ‘So we based the service in Glasgow city centre in the building of a homeless service.’ It was refurbished to be ‘clinically effective’ and to also ‘reassure the Home Office that we were running a professional and safe service’. Referrals came from the homeless addiction team and the criteria related to real life, he explained, unlike the stringent criteria of the RIOTT trials, which required being abstinent –‘we wouldn’t be able to recruit a single person!’. With a pre- and post-injection assessment, injecting takes place twice a day in one of four booths. Crucially, while they are there visitors are offered injecting equipment, wound management and naloxone. In the pharmacy at the back of the EDTS, the controlled drug cupboard is operated by fingerprints and monitored by CCTV, and there is a research and evaluation programme running alongside the service. ‘We’ve gone overboard to show we have safe procedures,’ he said. The first patients – all with ‘severe and multiple disadvantages’ began treatment last December. Their two doses a day at 300mg-400mg have achieved stabilisation, during which they were introduced to wraparound services, including the BBV and mental health teams. Their immediate health and welfare needs were assessed, with the offer of help with everything, from housing to looking after their toenails. Outcomes evaluation so far shows a ‘very promising treatment option’, particularly for people who have been going in and out of prisons and hostels for years. Also, crucially for its chance of sustainability, it shows that the service has already recouped the spend through saving on hospital admissions, multiple arrests and all the other costs that accompany a ‘complex needs population’. Meanwhile the North West of England is equally desperate to change its reputation of having the highest number of drug-related deaths in England. At the end of February, a team from Middlesbrough proudly announced ‘life changing’ early findings from their 12-month pilot HAT programme, which has been running since October 2019. Twice a day, seven days a week, the 11 participants come to a facility at the GP practice to inject a dose of medical grade diamorphine, under the supervision of trained staff. They are then offered access to a range of support services. WWW.DRINKANDDRUGSNEWS.COM ‘Julie’: This has given me a life When I got the phonecall to be on the programme I refused first of all. I thought it would be like another methadone treatment – get put on it and then 15 years down the line still be on it. I was a big shoplifter and doing a lot of drugs – I just thought it wouldn’t work. I just can’t believe how quickly it has worked. I don’t touch the heroin at all, and I was doing it for 20 years. This course has given me a life. I have disrupted my kids’ lives a lot through the drugs, and my husband’s life. This is my last chance and I know I’m on the right path. This by itself wouldn’t have worked but everything with it, it’s working a dream. It’s not just the two doses a day – it’s much more than that. The nurses who are there with us, you can speak with them anytime and it helps ‘This course has given me a life. This is my last chance and I know I’m on the right path... at first it was scary but we work together.’ a lot. They’re there with you. At first it was scary for everyone, but now we all work together, it’s a team. This is just the beginning – I’m not even close to being recovered yet. It’s a scary little ride that I’m on, but I’m strapped in. MARCH 2020 • DRINK AND DRUGS NEWS • 9