Should heroin be prescribed?27th April 2010
The general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing has said that people addicted to heroin should be given prescriptions for the drug on the NHS.
Peter Carter told the RCN's annual conference that giving addicts prescribed heroin would lead to a reduction in crime rates and help people to kick the habit.
Mr Carter's support follows good outcomes from health service pilot schemes in Brighton, Darlington and London.
The pilots showed that crime rates were reduced by two-thirds and 75% of participants "substantially reduced" their consumption of street-purchased drugs after being given supportive options such as therapy.
Mr Carter said: "I do believe in heroin prescribing. If you are going to get people off heroin then in the initial stages we have to have proper heroin prescribing services."
"Critics say you are encouraging drug addiction but the reality is that these people are addicts and they are going to do it anyway."
Mr Carter's comments received a mixed reaction. While some nurses supported his stance, others said they were opposed to the idea.
But Gail Brooks, from the RCN's UK safety representatives committee, said: "Where would this stop? Cannabis, cocaine, crack cocaine...other substances?"
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