Safe drug injecting centre ‘could save millions in spending’

Figures show around 500 people are injecting heroin on Glasgows streets. Picture: Toby Williams

Figures show around 500 people are injecting heroin on Glasgows streets. Picture: Toby Williams

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The UK’s first safe drug injecting centre in Glasgow could save the public purse millions a year, estimates suggest.

Plans have already been approved for the first supervised facility of its kind in the UK to help reduce the spread of blood-borne viruses and the risk of overdose.

Figures show around 500 people are injecting heroin on Glasgow’s streets and this scheme hopes to take all of them off the street.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde say that as well as cutting the risks to addicts the planned facility will also be “highly cost-effective.”

Based on local research of 350 people who inject drugs in Glasgow city centre, it was found that this group accounted for a £1.7m cost to A&E services over a two year period.

Existing research suggests that the average monthly spend on health, addictions, housing and criminal justice service for people with complex needs ranges from £1,120 and £3,069 per individual per month.

And of the 78 new HIV cases diagnosed in Glasgow since 2015 among people who inject drugs, the potential lifetime costs to the health service is around £28.08million.

The draft business case will be discussed at a meeting of Glasgow Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) on February 15.

Susanne Millar, the HSCP’s Chief Officer for Strategy, Planning and Commissioning, said the proposal could save the public a lot of money in the long-term.

She said: “The need for a safer consumption facility is about improving the health of those involved in public injecting, providing a route to recovery for a group of people often disengaged from support services and improving the general amenity of Glasgow city centre.

“The evidence clearly shows the potential for these proposals to create long-terms savings and so the economics of this issue are also compelling.”

The full business case will be put before the Glasgow Health and Social Care Partnership Board on June 17.

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