By Matt Jarram, Local Democracy Reporter
Nottingham City Council will be allocating up to £375,000 to help pharmacies hand out clean needles to people with drug problems.
The local authority says the service prevents “a burden” on the NHS and the potential increase of HIV and hepatitis cases.
It also stops used needles being disposed in places which could potentially harm the public.
The local authority has approved the spending of up to £375,000 over five years (£75,000 per year) of Public Health grant funding to procure a service for the supply of injecting equipment to community pharmacies and specialist services delivering needle and syringe exchange.
The decision was made under a delegated decision on June 23 – which means it took place outside of a council meeting.
The council says it commissions a range of pharmacies and a specialist service to deliver needle and syringe exchange services to Nottingham people.
There are currently 21 pharmacies delivering the service, with one specialist service based in the city centre.
The number of people accessing these services has not been revealed.
The council says in order to provide this service, a supplier for the injecting equipment needs to be commissioned to deliver equipment to these bases.
This decision refers specifically to the supply contract.
The council said: “Needle and syringe exchange has been a recognised best practice model for reducing injecting-related harm and blood-borne viruses such as HIV and hepatitis, and contributes to the reduction of harmful disposal of used injecting equipment.
“The council has worked with specialist harm reduction practitioners to develop a suitable range of equipment and pre-made packs to best meet the needs of the population of people who inject drugs within Nottingham.
“The current needle supply contract is due to expire on 30 September 2022. To ensure continuation of supply to these needle exchange bases (whose contracts are in place up to 2024), a procurement exercise is required.
“By procuring a five-year contract, there is a reduction in processing costs associated with retendering or extending contracts within approved extension options.”
It added: “Discontinuation of this provision could result in an increase in the prevalence and transmission of blood-borne viruses such as HIV and hepatitis, as well as injecting-related harm such as abscesses. An increase in these negative outcomes would increase the burden on other health and social care services.”