Determining local service levels for needle and syringe programmes
Benchmark for a standard population
Commissioners should ensure that services aim to increase the proportion of people who have over 100% ‘coverage' (that is, the proportion who have more than one sterile needle and syringe available for every injection) and increase the proportion of people from each group of injecting drug users who are in contact with NSPs.
The indicative benchmark rate for needle and syringe programmes (NSPs) is therefore, individual ‘coverage' of over 100% (that is, each individual having more than one sterile needle and syringe available for every injection).
For a population of 100,000 the average number of needles and syringes distributed would be at least 85,000 per year (to provide each individual with over 100% coverage). This is based on the assumption that each person who injects drugs accesses an NSP either directly or indirectly. Currently 90% of people who inject drugs may access NSPs in a given year. The proportion who routinely access an NSP is likely to be much lower. We have used the assumption of 100% since it reflects optimal service provision (complete coverage for a given population). Examine the remaining assumptions used in estimating these figures.
Use the NSP commissioning and benchmarking tool to determine the level of service that might be needed locally and to calculate the cost of commissioning the service using the indicative benchmark and/or your own local data.
Sources of further information to help you in assessing local health needs and reducing health inequalities include:
- Coverage calculator assesses the coverage of needles and syringes locally and determines the number of needles and syringes required to achieve individual coverage of over 100%.
- Annex A of the Commissioning framework for health and well-being outlines the process and data needed to undertake a joint strategic needs assessment.
- Department of Health Delivering quality and value - focus on benchmarking.
- NICE Health equity audit - learning from practice briefing.
- National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse Needs assessment and treatment planning templates and guidance.
- Association of Public Health Observatories provides a summary of key health indicators for each local council in England.
This page was last updated: 02 March 2012