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Drug use

HSE looking for company to operate pilot supervised injection centre

The facility will look “like any other health or social care premises” said a HSE national addiction lead.

THE HSE HAS put the call out for an operator of a supervised injecting facility in Dublin City Centre.

The tender, which is on, says the HSE is looking “for suitably qualified and experienced service providers to submit tenders to provide a medically supervised injecting centre in Dublin City Centre area on a pilot basis”.

The pilot phase is expected to last for an 18 month period with an evaluation at six months and again at 18 months.

Tenders must be submitted by 25 September 2017. According to the HSE, a supervised injecting facility “is a clean, safe, healthcare environment where people can inject drugs, obtained elsewhere, under the supervision of trained health professionals”.

It says that the centres “offer a compassionate, person-centred service which reduces the harms associated with injecting drug use and can help people access appropriate services”.

A SIF can help health service staff to reach and support vulnerable and marginalised people who often do not, cannot or no longer engage with existing health services.

Supervised injecting facilities typically provide people who use drugs with sterile injecting equipment, as well as counselling services before and after drug consumption. They also provide an emergency response in the event of overdose, and primary medical care.

Senators approved the legislation to set up supervised injection centres in May of this year.

Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, the former drugs minister, welcomed the news, saying he was “so proud” of everyone who helped make it possible.

At the time, Tony Duffin, CEO of the Ana Liffey Drug Project, said that it was a “great day for drug policy in Ireland” and that the facilities will “save both lives and money”.

Reduction of public health risks

The supervised injecting facility aims to:

  • Reduce drug-related overdose deaths
  • Reduce the risks of disease transmission through shared needles
  • Reduce public health risks such as needle-stick injuries and
  • Connect the most vulnerable and marginalised people who use drugs with treatment services and other health and social services.

Dr Eamon Keenan, HSE national addiction lead, said that the facilities typically consist of a reception area, a drug consumption area and a recovery area.

“The exterior of a SIF looks like any other health or social care premises,” he said, adding that there are over 90 of these types of facilities across the world in Europe, Canada and Australia.

“From research that has been carried out in these countries there is clear evidence of the benefits that such services can provide both for people who use drugs and the wider society,” he said. “The research also indicates that these types of facilities do not encourage drug use, delay treatment entry or aggravate problems associated with local drug markets.”

The facility will operate by means of a licence to be granted under the Misuse of Drugs (Supervised Injecting Facilities) Act 2017.

“The service will provide for adult drug users who are on the premises of the supervised injecting facility with the permission of the licence holder, for the purposes of consuming drugs by injection only,” said the HSE.

A key part of the tender process is the establishment of a community liaison post to work with the community in the selected location.

The provider and the proposed location will be known once the evaluation of the submissions is completed by end of October 2017.

Read: ‘A place to rest, a place to chat – a safe harbour’: Injecting centres get Cabinet approval>

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