RPS director for Scotland Alex MacKinnon described the needle exchange as a “key service to some of our most vulnerable people” and said he was “very disappointed” Network Rail had ended its participation in the scheme.
“The decision to end this service in an area of greatest need frankly beggars belief,” Mr MacKinnon said in a statement on Monday (September 25).
The needle exchange service was launched in July 2016, in response to a spike in the number of HIV cases in Glasgow, RPS Scotland said.
Mr MacKinnon stressed that the service saved the NHS money in the longer term, by preventing the spread of HIV and other blood-borne diseases.
Unsafe discarding of needles
Network Rail confirmed to C+D the needle exchange service closed last Sunday (September 24). A spokesperson told C+D the company had been meeting with partners about the exchange since late last year.
“It became clear that there had been an increase in the unsafe discarding of needles in public areas of the station,” the spokesperson said. “We put a number of mitigating actions in place, but this did not result in a drop in incidents.”
Network Rail will be meeting with partners to review the service, but it stressed its “primary responsibility” remains the safety of staff and passengers.
Responding to the decision to close the exchange, Boots UK said it believes community pharmacies are an essential part of the drug treatment system, “in particular the needle exchange service”.
Nearby Boots stores on Sauchiehall Street and Concert Hall Corner continue to offer a needle exchange service, the health and beauty giant added.