Steve Brine MP

for Winchester & Chandler's Ford

19 APR 2018

Minister examines Hepatitis C pilot project

Steve Brine visited Portman's Pharmacy in London on Thursday 19th April, as he looked at a pilot project testing for hepatitis C in a number of pharmacies across the capital.

The London Joint Working Group on Substance Use and Hepatitis C is running the scheme, and the objective of the pilot project is to reduce the onward transmission of hepatitis C and re-infection by facilitating access to diagnosis and ensuring transition into treatment for this vulnerable mobile population.

The main benefit to individuals is to provide quick and easy access to testing and a clear pathway into assessment and treatment in specialist care. Portman's Pharmacy has been providing a Needle and Syringe Programme and supervised consumption of methadone for a number of years. These points of contact with people who inject, or previously injected drugs, provide an ideal opportunity to test for hepatitis C, as around half of people who inject drugs in London have hepatitis C.

Portman's Pharmacy routinely provides 300-400 packs of clean needles and syringes every month to the drug injecting community around the Victoria area, and many of these packs are provided to regular clients with whom they have developed good relationships.

The pharmacy recognises the chaotic lifestyles of these individuals and so provides the hepatitis C testing service at a time that suits the individual - either when they collect their packs or when it is convenient to the client. The pharmacy has a robust relationship with a local general practitioner (GP) who supports homeless people. This GP has on occasions referred appropriate individuals to the pharmacy for hepatitis C testing.

In addition to providing the NSP, Portman's Pharmacy also provides a Supervised Methadone Consumption Service. The pharmacy supports 15 regular clients for this service and has identified individuals for hepatitis C testing through this service too.

 

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