Needle and syringe programmes (PH18)
Fast, easy summary view of NICE guidance on 'needle and syringe programmes'
Specific, concise statements that act as markers of high-quality, cost-effective patient care
This guidance is for anyone who provides or commissions a needle and syringe programme, including those working in pharmacies and drug (and alcohol) action teams.
Needle and syringe programmes provide sterile injecting equipment to people who inject illicit drugs. They may also support adults who inject non-prescribed performance and image-enhancing drugs.
The aim is to reduce the harm caused, particularly the spread of viruses such as hepatitis and HIV.
NICE recommends that local strategic partnerships (LSPs) – including local authorities – and NHS organisations should offer a range of services for people over 18.
All programmes should, as a minimum:
- encourage people who inject drugs to use the services on offer
- provide as many needles and syringes and other injecting equipment as someone needs
- provide sharps bins and advice on how to dispose of equipment safely
- provide advice on safer injecting and ways to get help to stop using drugs or switch to non-injecting methods.
More specialist programme services should include:
- advice and services to help them stop injecting
- treatment of infections and other health problems, vaccinations and housing and benefits advice (or help to access to such services).
The guidance complements and supports, but does not replace, NICE guidance on drug and substance misuse (see related NICE guidance on the back page for a list of publications).
This guidance has been incorporated into the following NICE Pathways, along with other related guidance and products.
Visit the NICE Pathway: needle and syringe programmes
This page was last updated: 06 March 2014
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The summary of the key recommendations in the guidance written for patients, carers and those with little medical knowledge and may be used in local patient information leaflets.
Quick Reference Guide
The quick reference guide presents recommendations for health professionals
The published NICE clinical guidance, contains the recommendations for health professionals and NHS bodies.
The published full clinical guidance for specialists with background, evidence, recommendations and methods used.