Needle and syringe programmes (NSPs) directly reduce the harm caused to people who inject drugs, but the consequent reduction in the prevalence and spread of blood-borne viruses benefits wider society.
NICE public health guidance 18 calls for an increase in the proportion of people in contact with NSPs, from each group of injectors. This includes homeless people, women, cocaine injectors, and injectors of performance and image-enhancing drugs such as anabolic steroids.
Both NICE and the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) state that there should be an increase in access to and availability of sterile injecting equipment, and an increase in the proportion of people who have over 100% 'coverage' (that is, the number who have more than one sterile needle and syringe available for every injection).
The Needle Exchange Monitoring System (NEXMS), developed by the NTA in 2007, is a simple web-based data collection tool to facilitate the monitoring of needle exchange activity in England, separate from NDTMS. Many areas, though, have their own arrangements for local data collection to monitor the amount and types of sterile injecting equipment they distribute.
The NTA is confident that there is effective NSP provision in every local area in England but is reviewing the collection of data by non-structured services, such as NSPs, that do not report to NDTMS.