SAFER drug injection services have been ramped up in Glasgow city centre amid fears of a rise in overdose cases and HIV infections.

Figures show more than 10,000 needles and sheets of foil were supplied by volunteers from a mobile unit over 49 nights in April, 204 every day and a rise of 13 per cent compared to the same month last year.

An additional 162 people were issued with the overdose reversal drug naloxone, while staff administered the drug three times in emergency cases.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) has been tackling an outbreak of HIV in the drug taking population for the past six years. 

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Figures contained in official board documents show there have already been 12 
confirmed cases in the first three months of the year, compared to 26 for the whole of 2019. Around 40 per cent are said to be linked to the Renfrewshire area.

The health board said maintaining the provision of safe injecting equipment had been a priority through lockdown.

However, it was forced to call in volunteers to staff a mobile unit run in partnership with 
Turning Point, due to the pandemic affecting staff numbers.

Jane Grant, Chief Executive of NHSGGC, writes: “The number of needles and syringes provided actually increased by 13 per cent in April 2020 when compared to the same month in 2019. 

“This was in part due to a significant increase in provision from the mobile IEP van. 

“At the start of lockdown, Turning Point Scotland experienced a range of Covid-19 
related problems which put the staffing of the mobile IEP van in jeopardy. 

“The IEP Improvement Manager was able to staff the van with volunteers from different teams/organisations. 

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“During April 2020, there was a threefold increase in the levels of equipment provided via this route. 

“Glasgow City HSCP has agreed to fund an additional mobile van to assist in increasing contact with vulnerable clients.”

Plans for Scotland’s first Safer Drug Consumption Facility (SDCF) in Glasgow have stalled despite widespread support from health leaders in the city after being rejected by the UK Government.