Addaction wins 2009 Health and Wellbeing Award
Addaction Staffordshire, a branch of the UK's largest drug and alcohol treatment charity, won the 'Health and Wellbeing' category of our 2009 Shared Learning Awards for improving local, pharmacy-based needle and syringe programmes. The improvements are in line with our public health guidance, 'Needle and syringe programmes' (PH18).
Addaction's management of this project is an excellent example for other community pharmacy-based, needle and syringe programmes. It also shows how NICE guidance can make a real difference to public health services.
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 they cause, particularly the spread of viruses such as hepatitis and HIV.
As recommended in our guidance, the Addaction team decided to assess current services in the area, including how well they are used.
In terms of service provision, it found that everyone was being given a generic needle pack. This isn't ideal, as the wrong kind of needle can do harm. (For example, wide-bore needles increase the risk of abscesses and the need for hospital treatment if they are used to inject into the groin.)
In response, the team developed a selection of colour-coded packs, tailored to the needs of different users. As an example, a sports pack for injectors of anabolic steroids contains one needle to draw up the steroid and one to inject - and there is now a specific pack for people who inject into the groin.
These have been distributed to community pharmacies that run needle and syringe programmes in Staffordshire.
Using surveys and 'secret shoppers', the team also looked at local pharmacy needle exchange programmes in action, assessing the attitudes and behaviour of both staff and customers. "There are barriers to accessing services," explains Addaction Service Manager, Julia Olijnyk, "and we wanted to uncover and address these issues."
Julia's team discovered a gap in understanding of drug use issues among staff. This meant that some people who use the service have felt judged - and this has put them off returning.
In response, the Addaction team designed a staff training programme. This includes a "cooking-up" class (to show how heroin powder is prepared for injection), information on different types of drugs and how they are used, legal issues and, of course, the NICE recommendations.
The aim was to give them an insight into drug use and to challenge their attitudes towards people who use drugs. It also aimed to give them the confidence to provide people with help - including advice on where to find appropriate specialist services, where necessary.
The training sessions run so far have been a success - and are set to continue. In addition, named Addaction contacts now provide ongoing support. This includes regularly visiting all community pharmacies that provide a needle and syringe programme in the area.
"The hope is that, by making pharmacy needle and syringe programmes more accessible, we can engage users early in their drug-taking habit and act as a gateway to other health, social or mental health services," said Nigel Brunsdon, Project Worker and Trainer.
"The earlier a user becomes engaged with services, the better the likely outcome. We can help users reduce harm to themselves - and to wider society too."
For more information on Addaction's Shared Learning competition entry, see www.nice.org.uk/usingguidance/sharedlearningimplementingniceguidance/examplesofimplementation/eximpresults.jsp?o=335
Contact Addaction Staffordshire firstname.lastname@example.org
Issued: 4 January 2010
This page was last updated: 13 April 2010