AH3 Supply and exchange injecting equipment for individuals


This standard covers establishing the extent and type of individuals’ injecting behaviour, providing harm minimisation advice, providing injecting equipment and exchanging used injecting equipment.  You also need to maintain records of the supply and exchange of injecting equipment in order that the service can be monitored and evaluated.

Users of this standard will need to ensure that practice reflects up to date information and policies.

Version No 1

Knowledge and Understanding

You will need to know and understand:

  1. legal and organisational procedures and requirements regarding the recording, storage and passing on of information relating to individuals and work undertaken with them
  2. policy guidelines and legislation for needle exchange with under-16s
  3. policy guidelines for working with individuals with learning difficulties
  4. health and safety legislation relevant to transportation and storage of used injecting equipment
  5. legal obligations and organisational policies regarding client confidentiality
  6. legal obligations and local policies regarding service provision for children and young people
  7. organisational policies and procedures for supply and exchange of injecting equipment
  8. potential benefits of brief interventions (e.g. referring individuals to other services)
  9. complaints and appeals procedures which individuals can utilise
  10. the range of substance misuse services offered by your organisation and other organisations
  11. the importance of keeping full and accurate records, and how to do so
  12. the range of behaviours that can be expected from substance users, and how to deal with these
  13. how to recognise and deal with immediate risk of danger to individuals who have used substances
  14. harm reduction techniques when using injecting equipment
  15. the health risks associated with returned needles
  16. how to dispose of needles safely
  17. potential blood borne viruses including HIV, Hepatitis B and C
  18. how to provide safe sex advice
  19. what to do in the event of a needle stick injury occurring
  20. what constitutes adequate stocks of injecting equipment
  21. how to provide a service with due regard for personal health and safety
  22. the rights of individuals to equal access to substance misuse services

Performance Criteria

You must be able to do the following:

  1. establish whether the individual is injecting and the frequency of injecting
  2. establish whether a needle exchange service can be provided for the individual in line with local policy (e.g. for children and young people a needle exchange service may be inappropriate)
  3. conduct a health assessment with the individual
  4. provide advice on safe or safer injecting techniques and sites
  5. provide relevant and timely advice on harm minimisation, primary health and safer sex
  6. provide advice and resources for safe storage and disposal of injecting equipment
  7. refer individuals to other services according to identified need
  8. liaise with providers of other services in line with policies and protocol
  9. maintain records of the needle exchange service.
  10. check that adequate stocks of injecting equipment are maintained
  11. check that injecting equipment is stored safely and securely
  12. dispense injecting equipment to individuals in line with the assessment of their needs
  13. demonstrate safe handling of dispensed injecting equipment
  14. carry out the exchange process discreetly and give out injecting equipment in a dispensing bag to maintain confidentiality
  15. do not handle returned injecting equipment, but direct individuals to place returned injecting equipment in the sharps bins themselves
  16. check that sharps bins are correctly assembled and never over-filled
  17. adhere to your organisations’ needle exchange policies and procedures
  18. deal with any spillages and discarded needles and syringes using the appropriate materials
  19. maintain records of injecting equipment supply and exchange in line with organisational procedures
  20. maintain confidentiality in all matters relating to individuals using the exchange scheme

Additional Information

This National Occupational Standard was developed by Skills for Health.

This standard links with the following dimension within the NHS Knowledge and Skills Framework (October 2004):

Dimension: HWB4 Enablement to address health and wellbeing needs

This standard has replaced HSC380.

AH3 Supply and exchange injecting equipment for individuals
Final version approved June 2010 © copyright Skills For Health
For competence management tools visit tools.skillsforhealth.org.uk