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According to the Crime Survey for England and Wales, 1 in 40 (2.5%) young people aged 16 to 24 took a new psychoactive substance during 2015-2016. And with evidence indicating widespread usage by vulnerable adults, including those in prison, could a new national monitoring system help?




Public Health England (PHE) and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is piloting a UK-wide system to improve the monitoring of the negative effects of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) across the entire healthcare estate, including:

- A&E
- Sexual health clinics
- Mental Health services
- Prison health services 
- Drug treatment services
- GP surgeries

The Report Illicit Drug Reaction (RIDR) system will be accessible to all frontline health staff. Information about the NPS and its effects will be analysed by experts in substance misuse to identify symptoms and dangers which can then be used to inform treatment guidance and help staff deal with unknown substances quicker, which will also improve patient safety. 


Despite the introduction of the Psychoactive Substances Act, NPS remains a major challenge for prisons, which is why we’re seeing an increase in the placement of prison substance misuse and offender healthcare professionals who are able to understand the effects of NPS and treat prisoners accordingly. 

Dr Sarah Elise Finlay, Emergency Medicine Consultant at the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust said the following on the RIDR system:

“Emergency services are facing significant pressure, which is why we’ve made the RIDR system as easy as possible for health staff. It’s great to know that, in future, help will be at hand for health staff dealing with the harms of these often-unknown new drugs.”

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