Ireland’s first Medically Supervised Injecting Facility

The HSE has confirmed that Merchants Quay Project CLG is the preferred bidder to operate a Medically Supervised Injecting Facility in Dublin City Centre on a pilot basis.

The awarding of the contract follows a HSE procurement process initiated last August and is subject to normal planning permission approval.

Welcoming the announcement, Minister of State for the National Drugs Strategy, Catherine Byrne TD said, “I am very aware as Minister of State for the National Drugs Strategy of the harm that injecting drug use can cause to individuals, their families and communities.

“This is an important public health initiative for responding to this reality of people injecting drugs on our streets. This pilot facility seeks to bring vulnerable people into a safe and clean supervised setting while also helping to reduce drug litter and open injecting in our communities. The establishment of a pilot supervised injecting facility is a key action in Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery, our health-led response to drug and alcohol use in Ireland. It is also in line with the Programme for a Partnership Government. This is a very welcome development and critical to the success of this pilot initiative will be the engagement with all stakeholders, including the local community.”

Dr Eamon Keenan, National Clinical Lead, HSE Addiction Services said, “I very much welcome this announcement of the location for the first Medically Supervised Injecting Facility at the Merchants Quay Project following a robust procurement process. This is a significant Public Health development in Ireland allowing a marginalised group of society, injecting drug users who may be homeless, to access a harm reduction service that will improve their health, access them into a range of medical and social services, and contribute towards a reduction in drug related deaths.”

An evaluation group established to review the tenders included HSE Procurement, HSE Social Inclusion, an Academic Expert, An Garda Síochana, Dublin City Council and an external Public Health expert.  It is envisaged that the preferred bidder will operate the facility for an 18 month period, by means of a Licence to be granted under the Misuse of Drugs (Supervised Injection Facilities) Act 2017.

A key element in the success of the pilot will be a demonstration of consultation and ongoing engagement with local stakeholders from the surrounding area. Merchants Quay Project will be required to have in place a specific plan in this regard and will be required to employ a Community Liaison Worker to engage local businesses, communities and residents in a meaningful manner. An external evaluation of the pilot phase of the facility will be carried out by an independent agent engaged by the HSE.

Specific structures will be put in place to ensure comprehensive operational, clinical and supervisory governance arrangements. These will include a Monitoring Committee comprising key stakeholders to oversee the facility chaired by Dr. Keenan on behalf of the HSE. A Clinical Governance committee will be established to ensure the facility is providing appropriate clinical intervention to attendees and that these interventions are in line with international best practice. The facility will also be required to comply with the National Standards for Safer Better Healthcare.