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Needles found at Surbiton Health Centre but wellbeing service likely to stay after equality report
They were found in bushes near The Lodge during a “very thorough” search by a volunteer, Dr Jonathan Hildebrand told a health overview panel meeting.
It is not known how long they had been there, he said.
Jason Clelland, a parent at next-door Lime Tree Primary School, said: “Two discarded needles is two too many, as far as I’m concerned.”
Councillors had been told no reports of dropped needles had been received by the council or logged by waste disposal teams.
Last night they backed a report which said the Kingston Wellbeing Service (KWS), which includes drug rehabilitation, could only be moved from its current location at the health centre if certain criteria were met.
The panel is made up of Lib Dem and opposition councillors, plus HealthWatch chairman Grahame Snelling and advisory members including Kingston Voluntary Action's Patricia Turner.
An assessment was carried out to decide whether moving KWS would leave the council open to legal action from service users but not the £40,000 full review mooted at earlier meetings.
The assessment, lead by Dr Hildebrand, concluded that unless changes were based on “clinical, risk or service delivery grounds” there was “a high probability that a relocation of all or part of the service could be perceived as discriminatory”.
Conservative Alexandra ward councillor Michael Burden said: “If I was a parent [of a Lime Tree pupil] and I was reading this report, I would not be entirely happy about what I was reading.”
The assessment was endorsed by the panel, with Coun Burden abstaining.
The meeting also heard the health centre is too small to accommodate the growing number of people accessing the service.
Stephanie Royston-Mitchell, the council’s drug and alcohol strategy manager, said: “It was always the intention for the service to grow.
“Very quickly there was an increase in the number of people accessing.
“It is quite clear now that they are operating out of a space that is not purpose-built. It is just not working.”
Space constraints – falling under the “service delivery” category – could mean part of the needle exchange is moved off health centre grounds.
‘Level three’ services, which combine needle exchanges with advice, and referrals to or provision of other health services, could be moved as people using them do not always access other wellbeing services.
The Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) service could also be provided elsewhere, due to lack of room.
NICE guidance on needle exchange services:
• Level one: distribution of injecting equipment either loose or in packs, with written information on harm reduction (for example, on safer injecting or overdose prevention)
• Level two: distribution of 'pick and mix' (bespoke) injecting equipment plus health promotion advice (including advice and information on how to reduce the harms caused by injecting drugs)
• Level three: level two plus provision of, or referral to, specialist services (for example, vaccinations, drug treatment and secondary care)
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