The Queensland Needle and Syringe Program operates a primary prevention model of service delivery which provides universal access and includes health promotion, illness prevention, care of the sick and community development. The three-tiered service model has three operational types:

  • Primary NSP: The primary role of staff is the provision of NSP services to IDUs - sterile injecting equipment, health promotion through education and information on BBVs and IRIDs, transmission and risk behaviours associated with injecting drug use, safer drug use, injecting health, and referrals for drug treatment, medical, legal and social services. In addition, the program develops responses to community concerns such as inappropriate disposal of used injecting equipment.

  • Secondary NSP: Staff provide limited NSP services as part of their general duties and the NSP is provided as an adjunct to other services.

  • Community Pharmacies: Sterile injecting equipment is provided on a commercial basis.
B7.1 Program delivery
B7.2 NSP Workforce

B7.1 Program delivery

Staff delivering primary and secondary services are supported regionally by QNSP through a Senior Project Officer based in Brisbane and responsible for NSPs within the Southern Area Health Service (SAHS) and the Central Area health Service (CAHS) and a Coordinator for the Northern Area Health Service (NAHS) as a QNSP satellite position based in Cairns. They are responsible for delivering:
  • Training of staff involved in all NSP service delivery (primary, secondary and pharmacy)
  • Liaison and support to community pharmacies involved in distributing sterile injecting equipment
  • Links with local councils regarding sharps management and disposal
  • Facilitation of research
  • Communication networks among IDU populations across the regions
Primary and secondary NSP services are located within the QH Districts (District) in each of the QH Area Health Services (AHS). Staff delivering primary and secondary NSP services report through the District Health Services management line for day to day operations. Secondary NSPs draw on capacity of the staff from the generic and clinical personnel of the District. Districts deliver secondary NSP services on an 'opt in' basis.
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B7.2 NSP Workforce

Current NSP service capacity

There are a total of 140 NSPs in Queensland. Of these, 97 are actively ordering NSPs, with 17 primary outlets and 80 secondary outlets. Eight needle dispensing machines (NDMs) have also been installed across Queensland (Caboolture, Cairns, Dalby, Warwick, Mackay, Rockhampton, Bundaberg and Toowoomba).

Primary sites are predominantly located in major regional and metropolitan town centres, where distribution is high. Approximately half of the NSP outlets (including vending machines) currently provide some after-hours service and/or service on weekends.

NSPs are delivered through ATODS and sexual health services within Queensland, as well as through community health centres, non-government organisations and hospitals. Approximately one-third of the NSP outlets are located in hospitals with another one-third located in community health centres. A large proportion of hospital-based NSPs are situated in regional, rural or remote centres.

The range of equipment available varies across NSP sites. Rural and remote sites issue fewer types of equipment (some distributing only one type of equipment item, eg 3ml pack) compared to large regional and metropolitan sites, where equipment such as filters and swabs can be distributed.

Table 3: Distribution of NSPs in Queensland

Health Service DistrictArea DistrictPrimary outletsSecondary outletsVending machine
NorthernCairns & Hinterland
2
9
1
NorthernCape York
1
NorthernMackay
1
41
1
NorthernMt Isa
2
NorthernTownsville
1
9
CentralCentral QLD
2
14
1
CentralFraser Coast
3
CentralNorthside
2
3
1
CentralSouthside
3
8
CentralSunshine Coast & Cooloola
2
4
CentralWide Bay
1
6
1
SouthernGold Coast
2
2
SouthernSouth West
4
SouthernToowoomba & Darling Downs
9
3
SouthernWest Morton & South Burnett
1
2
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Distribution of injecting equipment

The number of needles and syringes distributed through NSPs in Queensland over time has more than doubled in the last 10 years. In the last five years alone, distribution has increased by over 25%. The top 20 distribution NSP sites account for approximately 60% of the needles and syringes distributed in Queensland.

Figure 1: Number of needles and syringes distributed through primary and secondary NSPs in Queensland over the last 10 financial years

Text equivalent below for Figure 1: Number of needles and syringes distributed through primary and secondary NSPs in Queensland over the last 10 financial years
Text version of Figure 1
Figures in this description are approximate as they have been read from the graph.

Number of needles and syringes distributed through primary and secondary NSPs in Queensland over the last 10 financial years:
  • 97/98 - 3.1 million issues
  • 98/99 - 4.3 million issues
  • 99/00 - 4.9 million issues
  • 00/01 - 4.3 million issues
  • 01/02 - 4.0 million issues
  • 02/03 - 4.7 million issues
  • 03/04 - 5.1 million issues
  • 04/05 - 5.2 million issues
  • 05/06 - 5.4 million issues
  • 06/07 - 5.8 million issues
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Pharmacy sales and disposal

In addition to primary and secondary NSP outlets, there are 561 pharmacies across Queensland that participate in the sale of sterile needle and syringes, with 141 pharmacies providing sharps disposal services.

COAG NSP funding supports the partnership between public and private sectors, which is a key element of the model as it provides the Program with broad coverage, the capacity to provide universal and targeted access to IDUs and to focus on populations at highest risk for transmission of blood-borne viral and non-viral infections. An evaluation of the Pharmacy Needle and Syringe Project undertaken by Siggins Miller in 2006 reinforced the importance of pharmacies in increasing the accessibility of sterile injecting equipment in Queensland, where geographic coverage is a key challenge. The partnership with pharmacies is facilitated in this way through 1FTE project officer and returns a 1.5m distribution level.

Figure 2: Outlets and distribution for 2006-07 across the three tiers of the service delivery model

Text equivalent below for Figure 2: Outlets and distribution for 2006-07 across the three tiers of the service delivery model
Text version of Figure 2
Outlets and distribution for 2006-07 across the three tiers of the service delivery model:
  • Top tier - Primary NSPs
    • 17 outlets
    • Free needle and syringe distribution by

  • Middle tier - Secondary NSPs
    • 80 outlets
    • A network of free needle and syringe distribution located in

  • Bottom tier - Pharmacy Sales
    • 561 outlets
Primary and secondary NSPs have a combined distribution of 5.5 million.

Pharmacy sales have a distribution total of 1.5 million.
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