Glasgow City Council are considering setting up ‘safe sites’ which can be used by drug users who inject heroin.
The committee paper discussed recently was given approval and will now be discussed fully at the council’s next meeting in June, where it may be given the go ahead.
Public injecting of drugs places considerable financial costs on the health, social care and criminal justice systems. This was the finding of the draft, full-business case for Glasgow Health and Social Care Partnership’s (HSCP) proposed safer consumption facility for heroin users.
The draft business case also identifies evidence that indicates safer consumption facilities not only improve health outcomes for people who inject drugs, but are also ‘highly cost effective and contribute to savings’ for health services.
Establishing a safer consumption facility would also create savings in other services said the report.
The conclusions are based on the assessment that a safer facility would reduce the spread of blood borne viruses, reduce drug-related deaths, the use of unscheduled services and reduce offending.
Proposals for a safer consumption facility, alongside a heroin-assisted treatment service, arose after a steep rise in the number of HIV cases among people who inject drugs.
According to the draft, full-business case, the 78 new HIV cases diagnosed in Glasgow since 2015 among people who inject drugs could potentially create lifetime costs to the health services of a staggering£28.08million.
Based on local research of 350 people who inject drugs in Glasgow city centre, it was also found that this group accounted for a £1.7m cost to accident and emergency services alone over a two year period between 2014 and 2016.
A further study of social work records found that 99 per cent of people in this group of public injectors were currently involved with social care services or were previously known to social care services. Existing research suggests that the average monthly spend on health, addictions, housing and criminal justice service ranges from £1,120 and £3,069 per individual per month.
The report also highlights the cost-effectiveness of treatment for chronic heroin user who have not benefited from other interventions.