DRUG users in Glasgow have been receiving lifesaving support from volunteers running a mobile injection van amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Injection Equipment Provision (IEP) unit has proved vital in maximising harm reduction in the city’s vulnerable drug using community as well as providing a crucial link to support and treatment.

The van dispensed more than 10,000 clean needles and sheets of foil as many pharmacies and health services reduced access during the first stages of lockdown.

Over 49 consecutive nights throughout the pandemic, staff provided an immediate response for 155 individuals; supplied 162 individuals with naloxone and administered naloxone on three occasions to reverse potentially fatal drug overdoses.

The van continues to operate every evening, staffed by Turning Point Scotland, who continue to engage with the most vulnerable in the city centre’s streets and in hotels - where more than 500 homeless people are accommodated.

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John Campbell, IEP programme improvement manager for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s Alcohol and Drug Recovery Service, said: “The IEP van has been absolutely invaluable in the provision of care to some of the most vulnerable people in the city.

"People can often be scared, unable or unwilling to engage with traditional healthcare pathways, and the IEP van provides that crucial link for them to access healthcare.

“It has been a huge challenge in staffing the IEP over the course of the pandemic, but thanks to the help of volunteers we’ve been able to ensure that consistent lifeline has been there throughout the pandemic and where it’s needed the most.”

The success of the van has helped pave the way for Glasgow City HSCP to apply for funding from the Drug Death Task Force for an additional unit to assist in increasing contact with vulnerable people who use drugs.

Mandy Ramsay, head of clinical and care governance at Turning Point Scotland, said: “Prior to Covid-19, some of these people wouldn’t ordinarily have visited services such as Turning Point Scotland’s Glasgow Drugs Crisis Centre and so by utilising the mobile IEP van, we can provide harm reduction services to more people, therefore saving more lives.”