Reducing preventable deaths among people who use drugs

Published: 27 Apr 2016

Reducing preventable deaths among people who use drugs

Supervised Injecting Facilities should be introduced in Scotland, according to a report by Kirsten Horsburgh, who recently spent six weeks in Australia researching strategies aimed at reducing drug-related deaths.

Drug-related deaths in the UK are at an all-time high. In Scotland, 613 people lost their lives to accidental and preventable overdoses in 2014, among the highest numbers per head of population in Europe.

Kirsten is the National Naloxone Coordinator at Scottish Drugs Forum. Her travels were enabled by a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Travelling Fellowship award.

During her travels, Kirsten spent two weeks in the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre (MSIC) in the Kings Cross area of Sydney. The practices she observed there are proving to be highly effective. Since MSIC opened in 2001, the number of ambulance call-outs to Kings Cross have been reduced by 80%. As of May 2015, MSIC had supervised almost one million injections, managed almost 6,000 overdoses and had not suffered a single fatality onsite.

“To visit the facility is to realise how much Scottish cities could learn and how much we could do. They are supported by business and other stakeholders, some of whom were initially sceptical, and staffed by dedicated and skilled individuals.  They not only save lives but encourage people to trust and engage with services to address issues in their lives” –Kirsten Horsburgh

Kirsten’s research has convinced her that strategies such as the introduction of Supervised Injecting Facilities must be prioritised and implemented in the UK without delay to avoid a continued upward trend in accidental and preventable drug-related deaths.

Since returning from her trip, Kirsten has had several meetings with key stakeholders in Scotland. She has presented at conferences and seminars and plans to disseminate her findings further at a number of other conferences in the future.

Read Kirsten’s report here.

Notes to Editors

For media enquiries please contact:

Austin Smith, Scottish Drugs Forum, Email: austin@sdf.org.uk, Phone: 0141 221 1175

Andy Coffey, Scottish Drugs Forum, Email: andyc@sdf.org.uk Phone: 07704 359 450