The Hepatitis C Trust joins call for Overdose Prevention Centres pilot

The Hepatitis C Trust joined senior doctors, public health specialists, drug experts and other health charities in calling for the Government to pilot Overdose Prevention Centres in the UK in a joint letter published yesterday (Sunday 12th December).

The letter, coordinated by the Faculty of Public Health, notes that the UK’s record number of drug-related deaths requires implementing all available evidence-based interventions to save lives and protect health.

Overdose Prevention Centres are healthcare facilities where individuals consume their own drugs supervised by trained staff who can intervene if they overdose and provide other harm reduction advice.

Available evidence demonstrates that Overdose Prevention Centres are effective in preventing drug deaths, with reviews highlighting that there has never been a fatal overdose reported in the over 130 sites available globally. Evidence reviews also highlight the benefits of Overdose Prevention Centres in facilitating patient referrals to treatment services and the adoption of safer injecting practices to reduce hepatitis C and other blood borne virus transmission.

Other signatories to the letter include the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, the Association of Directors of Public Health, the National Aids Trust, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy Reform and many others.

Rachel Halford, Chief Executive of The Hepatitis C Trust, said: “There is a wealth of evidence that shows Overdose Prevention Centres are effective at preventing harms associated with drug use, including the risk of hepatitis C transmission.

“Overdose Prevention Centres have been implemented in many other European countries with beneficial results. The UK Government must now act on the evidence by introducing a pilot of Overdose Prevention Centres in this country.” 

The full letter can be viewed on the Faculty of Public Health website here and a write-up in The Observer here.