Health board spends thousands to aid drug use

The biggest health board in Scotland is spending £1,000 every day to provide drug users with equipment which helps them to take drugs, according to the Scottish Daily Mail.

Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board supplies users with kits which heroin addicts can pick up in Boots pharmacies.

One Scottish Conservative MSP described the policy as “waving the white flag” at drug addiction.

Feeding the habit

The kits, which are available free of charge, include needles and syringes and are designed to make heroin use ‘as safe as possible’.

The packages also contain a sheet with information on how to use drugs ‘successfully’.

The health board already provides a range of materials such as swabs, disposal bins and water to inject with, like other boards across Scotland.

Waving the white flag

The Scottish Daily Mail reported that the cost equates to around £60 for each drug user every year, a total of almost £400,000 between 2012 and 2013.

Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont warned against the policy.

He said, “people see health boards spending hundreds of thousands facilitating drug use, and wonder if we’re waving the white flag.

Wrong signal

“What sort of signal does it send out to those either trying to stop or resist drug use when the NHS is giving such an extensive helping hand to keep the habit going?”

Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board has been supplying the kits for a number of years.

When they first came in, a family campaigner compared the move to “giving 200 cigarettes to someone who was trying to give up smoking”.

Earlier proposals

In March this year, the Scottish Government rejected calls to introduce officially-sanctioned rooms where drug addicts could inject themselves.

Senior doctors from a Government advisory body had recommended that ‘drug consumption rooms’ be made available, claiming this would prevent drug deaths.

But a Scottish Government spokesman said it “has no plans to introduce drug consumption rooms due to the ethical and legal issues raised by such proposals”.

Related Resources