Kirsten Horsburgh's Story

Kirsten Horsburgh's Story

Kirsten Horsburgh travelled to Australia in 2015 to research strategies aimed at reducing drug-related deaths.

The Fellowship

Kirsten is the National Naloxone Coordinator at Scottish Drugs Forum (SDF). With 613 people having lost their lives to accidental overdoses in Scotland in 2014, among the highest numbers per head of population in Europe, Kirsten was determined to discover new ways of working with drug users in order to stop these preventable deaths.

For her Fellowship she travelled to Australia to observe the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre (MSIC) in the Kings Cross area of Sydney. Since opening in 2001, MSIC has supervised almost one million injections and managed almost 6,000 overdoses, while not suffering a single fatality onsite. As well as providing a safe space for drug users to inject, MSIC also provide people with dignity and respect whilst encouraging them to trust and engage with services to address issues in their lives.

The Results

Kirsten returned to the UK convinced of the merits of supervised injecting facilities. She has since provided briefings and advice on this subject to Scottish Government officials and Ministers, and presented the findings of her Fellowship to colleagues in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde working on a health needs assessment for people injecting in public, the Holyrood Drugs Conference, the Scottish Needle Exchange Workers Forum, Specialist Pharmacists in Substance Misuse, Scottish Prison Service, SDF’s conference to mark International Overdose Awareness Day and the HIT Hot Topics conference in Liverpool.

Kirsten was invited to be part of a working group to assist in the development of a business case for a supervised injecting facility and heroin assisted treatment in Glasgow City. On 31st October 2016 the proposal of the group was agreed to in principle by members of the Integration Joint Board. A full business case is now being developed which will be taken back to the IJB in February 2017 for further consideration. If approved, the facility will be the first of its kind in the UK.

Read Kirsten's report here

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