19 July 2017
A national meeting to discuss how we can accelerate the pace and scale of the rollout and uptake of detachable low dead space syringes (LDSS) via needle exchanges took place on Monday 3 July. Research shows that these new LDSS can reduce the chance of spreading infections, such as HIV and hepatitis C, among people who inject drugs if they are re-used or shared.
The event was funded by the PolicyBristol Support Scheme and organised collaboratively by NIHR CLAHRC West, NIHR Health Protection Research Unit (HPRU) in Evaluation of Interventions, local needle exchange providers Bristol Drugs Project (BDP) and the Drug and Alcohol Addictions Health Integration Team.
The aims for the day were to:
We brought together 20 stakeholders including staff and volunteers from needle and syringe programmes, injecting equipment manufacturers, local authorities, commissioners, Public Health England, people who inject drugs and academics.
The event began with three short presentations. Jo Kesten from CLAHRC West and the HPRU in Evaluation of Interventions presented the findings from a study of the acceptability of detachable low dead space syringes. Next, Andrew Preston from Exchange Supplies, who produce ‘Total Dose’ LDS needles, provided a manufacturer’s perspective on the equipment. Following this, Emma Wells and Deb Hussey from BDP shared their experience of rolling out detachable LDSS equipment and its acceptance among service users.
In the afternoon, the stakeholders discussed what could be achieved by producing a video and other communication material, the intended audience and key messages.
Before the event, we ran two discussion groups with BDP service users who had used detachable LDSS, and staff and volunteers working in needle exchanges. We wanted to find out their experiences of the new equipment, recommendations for future implementation elsewhere and suggestions for the content of a video or other communication material to encourage the use of detachable LDSS.
Darren, a Bristol Drugs Project service user, Jim Bartlett, a BDP assertive engagement worker, and NIHR CLAHRC West’s Mike Bell presented the feedback from the service user group.
Darren was pleased to attend and decided he wanted to use his real name for this event instead of the pseudonym he had used with BDP in the past. The event provided a rare opportunity for Darren to discuss his experience of detachable LDSS equipment with a manufacturer and to share a platform with commissioners and academics.
The group suggested that infographics (graphic visual representations of information) with some animated content would be more appropriate than a video. They felt it would be difficult to reach service users with a video.
The primary audience for the infographics is service users. Staff and volunteers working in needle exchanges and commissioners will be secondary audiences. The group agreed that the infographic topics should go further than encouraging the use of detachable LDSS, by promoting broader injecting harm reduction messages. Posters and leaflets will be produced alongside the infographics.
The key topics to cover in the infographic are:
Feedback from the event was extremely positive. Most delegates strongly agreed that:
“A really positive day!”
“I found it really useful getting together with people from diverse backgrounds and hearing about their experiences and opinions.”
“All the stakeholders in the meeting were taking part in the discussion.”
“A wide range of different agencies in the same room discussing harm reduction.”
“It was really good to see research being put into practice.”
“A superb opportunity for diverse group of people to work together.”
The event has helped start to develop the content for six infographics and supporting communication materials. The stakeholders, including service users, will work together to develop the content further and apply for funding to produce the infographics.