RPS in Scotland comments on closure of Scotland’s busiest needle exchange

The needle exchange at the pharmacy at Glasgow Central Station has been forced to close after Network Rail ended its participation in the scheme. 

The service was opened in July 2016 following a spike in the number of HIV cases in Glasgow – from an average of 10 cases a year to 90 new cases since 2015.

Alex MacKinnon, Director for Scotland, responded to the news: “I am very disappointed by this decision. The pharmacy in Glasgow Central station delivered a key service to some of our most vulnerable people in society. Any health service should be delivered where it will bring the most impact to those it seeks to serve. The decision to end this service in an area of greatest need frankly beggars belief. I appreciate the concerns raised, but I would have expected solutions to address these issues rather than closing this essential service. Without it the problem of “drug paraphenalia” on the streets can only get worse. 

“Public policy should be about how best we provide person-centred services to ensure they deliver the best outcomes for the individual and the population as a whole. Not only did this pharmacy and its staff do that, but in the process it also saved our NHS a lot of money in the longer term, preventing spread of HIV and other blood borne diseases, as an estimated life-course treatment for HIV is estimated to be £360,000 per individual.

“I hope that this decision will expedite the provision of a safe supervised drug injecting facility in central Glasgow which was approved in principle last year. This would have the dual advantage of keeping injecting equipment off the streets and increasing access to treatment and support for this exposed group of people. 

“I strongly urge Network Rail to revisit this decision.”

More information can be found in the Sunday Herald article.