South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust Needle and Syringe Exchange Scheme provides injecting drug users access to sterile needles, syringes and other equipment and the safe disposal of used needles and syringes. Needle Exchanges are open access, low threshold services which operate during a drug treatment agencies and pharmacy’s normal opening hours.
It is recognised that not all drug and or alcohol users are in a position to lead drug free lives, a harm reduction approach is therefore applied.
It does not seek to support a drug using lifestyle but, takes a non-judgmental approach to engage and build relationships with people who are placing themselves and others at potential risk.
Needle exchange delivery is based on the philosophy of providing injecting drug users with sterile hypodermic needles and associated injection equipment at no cost. The aim of these services is to reduce the damage associated with using unsterile or contaminated injecting equipment.
The service assist people who inject drugs to remain healthy until they are ready and willing to cease injecting through the provision of accurate, current and non-judgemental health advice and information.
The service promotes health promotion for intravenous drug users and to reduce the risk of passing on infections to others. However, needle exchange is not just for people who inject but will work with individual who consume there substances in other ways. Service will also advise those who use or are about to start using drugs.
Needle exchange services
Needle and syringe exchange is available through selected pharmacies and drug treatment agencies displaying the needle exchange logo.
Project based needle exchange
The project based needle exchange scheme offers a confidential service to Service Users over 18 who inject drugs for the provision and return of injecting equipment.
Project based needle exchange staff provide advice & information on issues related to substances use. All staff are approachable and supportive with an understanding and professional attitude. Simply let them know what substance you are using and they’ll ensure you get the right injecting equipment and advice. Staff are also happy to discuss your injecting practice and any concerns or questions you may have. Please return all used injecting equipment in a sharps bin for safe disposal. Further information and advice about treatment options are available. (See the links on the Safer injecting and harm reduction page)
Pharmacy Needle Exchange
Pharmacy based Needle Exchange Service, is an easy to access and user-friendly service and which respects the confidentiality of all injecting drug user.
However Pharmacy Needle Exchange Schemes is not available to those under 18s. Those under 18 years of age must visit a project based needle exchange site for a full assessment.
Pharmacy staff will proactively signpost people who inject drugs to drug treatment services who can provide wider health services including a broader range of injecting paraphernalia, wound checking, the promotion of safer injecting or alternative drug taking practices. Treatment services, Blood Borne Virus testing and inoculation to reduce the risk of blood borne virus infection & access to overdose awareness and basic first aid training.
Pharmacy needle exchange sites carry a number of pre-prepared harm reduction packs with 10 of each item (see the pack content page), if you are looking for larger volumes or a wider range of equipment please visit a Project-based exchange in your area. See the needle exchange at the bottom of the page. Please return all used injecting equipment in a sharps bin for safe disposal.
What we expect from you:
Occasionally, when you visit the pharmacy the staff may be busy, so you may have to wait a short time to be seen, like any other customer, or you may wish to return later.
Please return all used syringes and needles to your needle exchange. You will be asked to put all returned equipment into the sharps collection bin.
This means they can be disposed of safely.
Never throw injecting equipment in the bin, down the drain or leave them lying around anywhere.
What you can expect from pharmacy needle exchange staff:
To be treated like any other customer/ client who accesses health services for any other reason.
You will need to queue like any other customer
Staff will issue basic needle and syringe equipment and safely dispose of used injecting equipment in a sealed sharps bin.
Some pharmacy sites carry basic Steroid injecting equipment.
What information do we ask for?
Some basic and anonymous details will be asked for on the first visit. There will be an expectation for you to use the same information at every exchange.
We need this information for to make sure we provide the correct information, advice and equipment to all injecting drug users. None of this information can be used to identify you (we are only here to help).