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Volume 407: debated on Wednesday 25 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much needle exchange programmes have cost the NHS in each of the last three years. [113022]

Needle exchange schemes are one of a number of harm reduction activities carried out in support of the Drug Strategy. Spend on needle exchange schemes is not separately identifiable but a total of £27 million of Government funding was spent on harm reduction activities in 2001–02. We do not have figures for the previous two years. Other harm reduction activities include work to reduce the spread of blood-borne diseases, including HIV and Hepatitis B and C, and the Government's Action Plan to reduce drug related deaths.Substantial funding is also made available for needle exchange schemes from National Health Service mainstream resources but we have no way of estimating the actual amount, as this is based on local decision-making by drug action teams and primary care trusts.