A second needle-exchange van is set to hit the road in Glasgow to help tackle the city’s drug crisis.
The new unit – funded by the Scottish Drug Deaths Taskforce – will join the current Injection Equipment Provision (IEP) van and will act as a key touchpoint for drug users by providing crucial healthcare and harm reduction services.
Primarily providing injecting equipment to minimise the transfer of blood-borne viruses (BBV), it will also carry out testing in the community to help tackle the city’s HIV epidemic.
Staff will also distribute life-saving naloxone, and help people who wouldn’t normally engage with the health service access the right treatment.
It is hoped the new IEP unit – which will travel to different areas of Glasgow – will be up and running within the next six months while the current van continues its operations within the city centre.
Currently staffed by Turning Point Scotland, it operates every evening and at the weekends.
Over 49 consecutive nights throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, staff provided an immediate response to 155 individuals, dispensed more than 10,000 needles and sheets of foil, supplied 162 individuals with naloxone and administered the drug on three occasions to reverse potentially fatal drug overdoses.
John Campbell, IEP improvement manager at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said: “As reflected on the ground and through wider statistics, we’re seeing a significant positive impact from IEP van as a harm reduction initiative for this particular vulnerable group of people.
“The impact is particularly poignant in the context of the HIV epidemic, and is allowing us to make significant inroads in providing regular testing and monitoring within the community suffering most from the outbreak.
“Traditional treatment and services simply do not have the same impact on these patients, who often live chaotic lifestyles and have minimal contact with health services.
“The van provides that front door to the health service, and in addition to providing basic immediate treatment if required, patients can be referred onto to the right long-term treatment pathway. This could include engaging with a range of specialist services to aid recovery, mental and physical wellbeing, or, putting people in touch with wider social services.
“We look forward to seeing the second van on the road and to be able to multiply the positive work already being done within the community and through the wider harm reduction policy.”