Life-saving medication given to Doncaster prisoners on their release
and live on Freeview channel 276
Naloxone, which acts as an emergency antidote for those who have overdosed on heroin and other drugs like methadone and fentanyl, is administered by injection in a similar way to using an EpiPen for the emergency treatment of severe allergic reactions like anaphylaxis.
“It can temporarily reverse the life-threatening effects of an overdose, such as depressed breathing, for approximately 20 to 30 minutes and further doses can be given if necessary, said Louise Braisby, from Doncaster’s Aspire Drug & Alcohol Services.
“Naloxone can easily be administered by anyone who has had training. Ideally, an ambulance should still be called but this offers immediate life-saving support until it arrives.
“We are trying to reduce the number of deaths from opiate overdoses and, as custody suites continually engage with people who are at risk of such drug poisoning it’s a very positive move, in line with the Government’s national drug strategy.
“Training is provided by one of our qualified drug and alcohol criminal justice workers while the prisoner is detained and a sealed supply of naloxone is placed with their property before their release.”
Health staff worked closely with South Yorkshire Police to agree the custody suite roll-out, which they say is the final piece of a local jigsaw to make naloxone kits available at key contact points for drug misusers in Doncaster.
Paramedics currently carry the kits on board ambulances, as do staff working for organisations that have contact with drug misusers, such as prison officers, outreach workers and community teams.
Each naloxone pack costs the drug treatment service less than £15 and contains a number of doses.
Louise added: “As well as professional workers, it can be helpful for family members, or friends of those who are at risk from opioid overdose, to have a supply on hand if they need to act.
"Similarly, those that are at risk of opioid overdose are encouraged to carry a supply themselves. Prisoners who have finished their sentence at HMP Doncaster are routinely issued with a naloxone pack on release.”
Kits are also available from the Aspire specialist needle exchanges at Rosslyn House, Thorne Road, and The Hallgate Centre, Mexborough.
Doncaster currently has one of the highest rates of deaths from drug misuse in Yorkshire – behind Wakefield and York – at 8.1 deaths per 100,000, compared to the region average of 6.7.
The problem has been growing steadily, with 34 drug-related deaths recorded in the city in 2001-03, compared to 73 in 2018-20 - the latest available figures.
South Yorkshire Police’s Head of Custody, Chief Inspector Lee Dowswell, said: “It’s a real positive step forward that we are now able to issue naloxone to those released from custody who we feel are at risk.
"In recent months we have been working closely with partner agencies to help reduce drug related deaths and to increase our support to those at risk of drug overdoses.
"The distribution of naloxone to drug misusers could play a really important role in saving lives, I am pleased that the medication will now be available at all three of our custody suites across South Yorkshire.”