Seven chemists to stop supervising safe drug taking for substance abusers

By Grainne Cuffe, Local Democracy Reporter

Seven chemists are to stop handing over clean needles and supervising safe drug taking for substance abusers after the funding in one borough was slashed in half.

Southwark council found it was paying double the level Lewisham gives pharmacies to reduce the risk of death or overdose.

Out of the 18 pharmacies involved in supervised drug taking, 15 have agreed the new payments, which were cut in half.

Out of the 14 exchanging needles, 10 would continue.

The borough’s director of public health Professor Kevin Fenton told a health and social care scrutiny commission meeting on Thursday that the grant had been cut year-on-year.

He said: “This has meant we have been having to make some tough decisions.

“The grant fund is not just alcohol and drug services, but children and young people’s well-being, sexual health, and a range of mental health and well-being activities.”

Health consultant Farrah Hart, who co-wrote the report on the changes, said: “What’s the difference between Lewisham pharmacies and ours? Why can’t we ask for the same lower price?

“We were paying pharmacies a retainer every year just to take part in the service, and we’d give them money on top for giving out the kits.

“Some pharmacies are getting most of their money from the retainer. They weren’t actually giving out the kits at all. So now the more items you give out, the more you get and you don’t get a retainer.

“We have pharmacists in the borough who currently don’t do the service but who are quite interested in joining if the existing providers decide to drop out. We’re fairly confident that the coverage will be the same or similar.”



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