Claims Glasgow 'Fix Room' For Heroin Users Would Save NHS Millions


Opening a unit where addicts can inject drugs under supervision would save the NHS millions and provide a safer environment for heroin users, according to researchers.

Analysis by Glasgow Health and Social Care Partnership (GHSCP) found public injecting places considerable financial costs on health, social care and criminal justice systems.

The proposed ''safer consumption facility'' for heroin users in Glasgow has been described as a ''fix room'' or ''shooting gallery'' by some, and the idea has been considered in other UK cities but never implemented.

The plans will be considered by the GHSCP board on February 15, and it argues medically-supervised facilities improve the health of drug users, are highly cost effective and contribute to savings for health services.

Such a unit, experts say, would also reduce the spread of blood-borne viruses, reduce drug-related deaths and drug-related offending, and improve engagement with users.

Susanne Millar, the GHSCP's chief officer for strategy, planning and commissioning, said research points towards a substantial economic benefit to services if the facility and a heroin assisted treatment programme are approved.

She said: ''The need for a safer consumption facility is about improving the health of those involved in public injecting, providing a route to recovery for a group of people often disengaged from support services and improving the general amenity of Glasgow city centre.''

Proposals for the facility arose after a steep rise in the number of HIV cases among people who inject drugs.

According to the draft report, 78 new HIV cases diagnosed in Glasgow since 2015 among drug injectors could potentially create lifetime costs to the health services of £28 million.

The report found approximately 350 people injected drugs in Glasgow city centre, which accounted for a £1.7 million cost to accident and emergency services alone between 2014 and 2016.

A further study of social work records found 99% of those in this group were currently involved with social care services or were previously known to them.

Existing research also suggested the average monthly spend on health, addictions, housing and criminal justice service for people with complex needs ranges from £1,120 and £3,069 per person each month.

Ms Miller added: ''Our proposals to transform how we support those who publicly inject drugs would help to address a wide range of issues and so relieve considerable pressure on services elsewhere in the system.

''The evidence clearly shows the potential for these proposals to create long-terms savings and so the economics of this issue are also compelling.''