News in brief

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South west strategy

A pilot programme to help tackle hep C in the South West has been launched by Addaction Cornwall in partnership with the Hepatitis C Trust and pharma company AbbVie. The project includes staff training and peer-to-peer education and buddying, and is designed to reduce transmission rates and free up NHS resources. ‘This is an exciting programme that we hope will maximise the opportunity for elimination of hepatitis C in the region and we are confident that where the South West leads, the rest of England will follow,’ said Hepatitis C Trust chief executive Charles Gore.

The write stuff

Adfam’s annual writing competition for those affected by drug or alcohol use has been announced, with a main prize of £150 and two runner-up prizes of £100. Adfam Voices 2014 is open until 31 October, and entries should be no more than 500 words. ‘We are looking to get a record number of entries this year so please spread the word,’ says Adfam. Details at www.adfam.org.uk

Add ’em app

A free iOS app to allow people to calculate alcohol units and calories has been launched by Drinkaware. It also provides personalised feedback as well as information on the health benefits of reducing consumption. More information at www.drinkaware.co.uk

Patient power

Treatment providers Delphi Medical have joined with the Patients Know Best organisation to give clients secure online access to their health records. ‘A patient recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction receives very fragmented care because none of the agencies dealing with them can access a single version of that person’s medical record,’ said Adelphi MD John Richmond. ‘Putting the patient in control of their records solves this challenge at the click of a mouse.’ Delphi plans to enhance the project with training material and video podcasts so that clients ‘can quickly and easily understand why doctors are recommending certain treatment plans and courses of action.’ www.delphimedical.co.uk

They call it madness

European Commission funding has been announced for a research project on new psychoactive substances led by the University of Hertfordshire. EU-MADNESS (European-wide, Monitoring, Analysis and knowledge Dissemination on Novel/Emerging pSychoactiveS) is a two-year project to monitor, test and profile the types of substances emerging in Europe along with their ‘associated characteristics and potential harms’. www.eumadness.eu

Family facts

Adfam wants to hear from organisations providing support for families affected by drugs or alcohol for its 2014 health check project. ‘We want to know more about what’s happening in the sector in terms of sustainability, funding, networks and partnerships,’ says the organisation, which will publish a report based on the findings. Service managers can take the survey at www.surveymonkey.com/s/9KYMHMH until the end of September. The annual Adfam/DDN Families First conference takes place in London on 23 October. 

Search me

The Home Office has published guidance for police forces on the implementation of the best use of stop and search scheme, which aims to create ‘greater transparency, accountability and community involvement’. A report from Release last year found that black people are more than six times more likely to be stopped and search for drugs, and more than twice as likely to be charged if drugs are found (DDN, September 2013, page 4). Best use of stop and search scheme at www.gov.uk

Mass debate

A guide to help people ‘make the case for the legal regulation of drugs from a position of confidence and authority’ has been produced by Transform. ‘If someone tells you that legal regulation would mean a drugs “free-for-all”, or that the war on drugs can be won if we simply fight harder, you’ll be equipped to reply with short, clear and memorable counter-arguments,’ it says. Debating drugs at www.tdpf.org.uk

E-cig safety

WHO is calling for a ban on the indoor use of e-cigarettes along with their marketing and sale to young people, as ‘experimentation with e-cigarettes is increasing rapidly among adolescents’. There is also ‘insufficient evidence to conclude that e-cigarettes help users quit smoking or not’, it says. While the report was welcomed by the Faculty of Public Health, Professor Gerry Stimson of Imperial College, and co-director of Knowledge Action Change, said that WHO was ‘exaggerating the risks of e-cigarettes while downplaying the huge potential of these non-combustible, low-risk nicotine products to end the epidemic of tobacco-related disease’. Report on e-cigarettes to WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control at www.who.int

Bereavement support

DrugFAM’s sixth annual conference, Supporting the recovery of those bereaved by drugs and alcohol, takes place in Birmingham on 4 October. Full details at www.drugfam.co.uk