By HANNAH RODGER
CITY centre venues are being scoped out to house the UK's first drug injecting facility for heroin addicts.
It comes as the number of injecting drug users diagnosed with HIV across Glasgow has soared by 600 per cent in recent years.
Glasgow is planned to be the first host to a "safer consumption facility" designed to minimise risk to heroin users, provide safe and clean spaces for taking the class A drug, and increase their contact with medical staff.
At an Integration Joint Board meeting this morning members of the council, social work, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, and trade unions met to discuss the latest developments with the plans.
The board heard from Susanne Millar, the city's chief social work officer, who told of the increasing problem with HIV among injecting drug users.
Currently there are 78 confirmed cases in Glasgow, compared to the normal rate of 10.
Ms Millar said: "There is a significant issue we have in the city with HIV with the drug injecting population.
"The number of cases has increased from 54 to 78 confirmed cases in the city in a year.
"This shows an upward trajectory, and it is significantly more than we have seen in a long time."
The board were told the plans were a "spend to save" initiative, with the average lifetime cost to treat someone with HIV approximately £360,000.
The costs to care for the 350 people injecting heroin in the city centre in Glasgow over a two year period were also estimated to be around £1.7m.
Ann Souter, communities representative on the IJB asked about timescales for the plans, and was told that depending on legal documentation which had to be prepared, the facility could be open by the end of the year.
However, Ms Millar added the timing for the legal issues were "outwith" the board's control, and she did not expect the facility to be completed so quickly.
The controversial site will be the first to open in the UK, with similar services already operating in Paris.
It aims to help between 400 and 500 injecting drug users thought to be in Glasgow who do not typically get involved with normal recovery services.
Simon Carr, who is a member of the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Board, raised concerns about the lack of financial detail in the plans put forward yesterday.
He said: "I am broadly in support of this but my only reservation is that we don’t yet know what the costs are."
Further details on the costs of the site are to be provided at future meetings, following the decision on a venue, operating hours and how many staff are expected to work there.
The board are due to meet again next month to discuss the plans further.