Medically supervised injecting centres should be piloted in the UK

January 08, 2004

A programme of medically supervised injecting centres should be piloted in the UK, as part of an integrated public health strategy, say the authors of an article in this week's BMJ.

Injecting centres - "designed to reduce the health and public order problems associated with illegal injection drug use" - have been set up in Australia, Germany, and the Netherlands, and a pilot programme for the UK was recently recommended by the Home Affairs Select Committee. Home Secretary David Blunkett rejected this advice however - a decision which should now be reconsidered say the article's authors, as fresh evidence has emerged from an Australian pilot study regarding the effectiveness of such initiatives.

Medically supervised injecting centres allow drug users to inject 'street drugs' in a clinical environment, with resuscitation equipment and nursing staff on hand in case of overdose or other complications. Trained staff can offer safer injecting advice - including help to move away from intravenous drug use - but are not permitted to assist users with injecting.

The article's authors argue that pilot studies in other countries have shown positive results. An eighteen-month project in Sydney, Australia showed that clients attending the centre were more likely to start treatment for their addiction, and half the users reported their injecting practices had become less risky. Local residents and businesses complained of fewer sightings of public drug injecting, and discarded syringe counts dropped.

Criticisms that such centres promote drug use is not supported by the evidence, say the article's authors. Similar charges were levelled at needle exchange programmes in the 1980s - a strategy which has been shown to improve public health. The Home Secretary's support of a different initiative - prescribable heroin centres - in preference to injecting centres should now be reconsidered, say the authors, since they are largely appropriate only for long term heroin addicts. Medically supervised injecting centres are targeted instead at homeless and socially excluded drug users, and are an essential part of a successful public health strategy.


Related Health Articles from Brightsurf:

The mental health impact of pandemics for front line health care staff
New research shows the impact that pandemics have on the mental health of front-line health care staff.

Modifiable health risks linked to more than $730 billion in US health care costs
Modifiable health risks, such as obesity, high blood pressure, and smoking, were linked to over $730 billion in health care spending in the US in 2016, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health.

New measure of social determinants of health may improve cardiovascular health assessment
The authors of this study developed a single risk score derived from multiple social determinants of health that predicts county-level cardiovascular disease mortality.

BU study: High deductible health plans are widening racial health gaps
The growing Black Lives Matter movement has brought more attention to the myriad structures that reinforce racial inequities, in everything from policing to hiring to maternal mortality.

Electronic health information exchange improves public health disease reporting
Disease tracking is an important area of focus for health departments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

E-health resource improves men's health behaviours with or without fitness facilities
Men who regularly used a free web resource made significantly more health changes than men who did not, finds a new study from the University of British Columbia and Intensions Consulting.

Mental health outcomes among health care workers during COVID-19 pandemic in Italy
Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and insomnia among health care workers in Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic are reported in this observational study.

Mental health of health care workers in china in hospitals with patients with COVID-19
This survey study of almost 1,300 health care workers in China at 34 hospitals equipped with fever clinics or wards for patients with COVID-19 reports on their mental health outcomes, including symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia and distress.

Health records pin broad set of health risks on genetic premutation
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Marshfield Clinic have found that there may be a much broader health risk to carriers of the FMR1 premutation, with potentially dozens of clinical conditions that can be ascribed directly to carrying it.

Attitudes about health affect how older adults engage with negative health news
To get older adults to pay attention to important health information, preface it with the good news about their health.

Read More: Health News and Health Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to