Please note that this an archived page with details of a previous DRD conference or event. For details about our latest conference please see this DRD conference page

Drug Related Deaths Conference 2023

Drug Related Deaths Conference 2023

DRD Conference 2023

The Public Health Institute Drug Related Deaths Conference 2023 took place online on Thursday 16th March. The day was split into five sessions, with presentations and Q&A sessions from 14 great speakers.

Over 700 people attended online, a big thank you to everyone to attended, presented, and contributed during the day.

Links for PDF copies of presentations from the day are now available on this page, as well as the recording from the morning sessions. There was some great discussion and networking taking place in the chat area, so we've shared some notes from this too.

Conference Speakers

Conference welcome and housekeeping

Mark Whitfield

Mark is the Intelligence and Surveillance Manager at the Public Health Institute. He leads the Public Health Intelligence Unit team which includes a Drug Related Deaths surveillance and review system covering Cheshire, Merseyside, and Greater Manchester.

  Conference Welcome and Agenda

Professor Mark Bellis

Prof Mark Bellis gave the opening address on behalf of the Public Health Institute and LJMU’s Faculty of Health.

Session 1 - National developments on preventing DRD

Dame Carol Black

Dame Carol is author of the government’s independent review of drugs.

  Dame Carol's presentation

Steve Taylor

Steve Taylor is Programme Manager for Alcohol & Drugs Treatment & Recovery of the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) and presented on “Drug and alcohol deaths: an action plan for England”.

  Steve's presentation

Jane Bailey

Superintendent Jane Bailey is the West Midlands Police Force lead for Drugs & Psychoactive Substances. West Midlands was the first police force in the UK to carry naloxone.

  Jane's presentation

Session 2 - Examples of DRD prevention from around the UK

Anne Campbell

Dr Anne Campbell is a Senior lecturer in social work at Queen's University Belfast, a member of the UK Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), and Co-director of the Drugs And Alcohol Research Network (DARN), Queen’s University Belfast

Professor Rick Lines

Rick is Head of Substance Misuse and Vulnerable Populations for Public Health Wales. He is a Professor in the faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at Swansea University, and co-Director of the Global Drug Policy Observatory.

  Rick's presentation

Danny Ahmed

Danny spoke about his role as service manager for Diamorphine Assisted Treatment in Middlesbrough.

  Danny's presentation

If you tweet about this event please
include the tag

Session 3 - Practical responses to preventing DRD

Yasir Abbasi

Dr Yasir Abbasi is WDP’s Executive Medical Director, and clinical lead for WDP’s services in North West England. Yasir is also a Trustee for the Painkiller Addiction Information Network (PAIN) charity. Yasir's talk is 'Opioid Analgesic Dependence: A Perfect Storm'

  Yasir's presentation

Kristina Hnizdilova

Kristina Hnizdilova presented an overview of piloting a digital health respiratory monitoring intervention to reduce drug related deaths.

  Kristina's presentation

Amy Malaguti

Amy Malaguti is a Health psychologist from Dundee Drug and Alcohol Recovery Service and presented on psychosocial factors associated with risk of drug-related overdose.

  Amy's presentation

Session 4 - Social determinants and compassionate treatment

Professor Ricky Bluthenthal

Ricky Bluthenthal, Associate Dean for Social Justice and Vice Chair for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the University of Southern California, presented his work on social determinants of health, homelessness, and health risk among people who inject drugs.

Arfon Jones

Arfon Jones served as a Police Officer with North Wales Police from 1978 to 2008. Following retirement he was elected onto Wrexham County Borough Council for 9 years. He was the North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner from 2016 to 2021.

Liz McCoy

Liz McCoy is Addictions Lead within an NHS treatment setting in Greater Manchester with an interest in compassionate humanitarian treatment provision.

  Liz's presentation

Session 5 - End of life care for people using substances

Sam Wright

Dr Sam Wright is a Research Associate at Manchester Metropolitan University and spoke about end of life care for people using substances.

  Sam and Ellie's presentation

Ellie McNeil

Ellie is the Chief Executive of YMCA Together, she talked about the work that's been taking place in Merseyside to provide compassionate and dignified care to people at the end of their life.

Conference close and thanks

Professor Vivian Hope

Vivian Professor of Public Health made the conference closing remarks on behalf of the Public Health Institute.

Conference recorded video

Conference Video

This video with presentations from the conference is 3 hours in length.
To watch an individual presentation or speaker please use the time points below, or open the video in YouTube and use the time point chapters listed in the description.

  •   0:00 Welcome and agenda
  •  03:30 Professor Mark Bellis
  •  08:20 Mark Whitfield
  •  13:02 Dame Carol Black
  •  38:25 Steve Taylor
  • 1:00:00 Superintendent Jane Bailey
  • 1:22:00 Session 1 Q&A
  • 1:37:40 Dr Anne Campbell
  • 1:59:02 Professor Rick Lines
  • 2:17:18 Danny Ahmed
  • 2:46:32 Session 2 Q&A
  • 3:07:30 End credits

Please note that this recording only includes the morning of the conference (sessions 1 & 2), sadly Teams didn't record the afternoon but all the presentations are available on this page, and if you have any specific questions we can put you in touch with the speaker/s.

Presentations - Included media and videos

Jane Bailey: West Mids Police Naloxone - Video

Daniel Ahmed: Welcome to Foundations - Video

Daniel Ahmed: Hope for the future - Audio

Daniel Ahmed: Julie's story - Audio

Resources and networking

Some great networking and resource sharing took place in the chat area of this conference, so we've shared some links and notes here. If you have anything you'd like to add to this page please click to contact us

South East ambulance service information sharing protocols

Shared by: Satinder Kang, West Kent Drug & Alcohol Wellbeing Service, Change Grow Live

This is an example of the Southeast information sharing protocols it is a fantastic way of monitoring risk around service users. Staff who sign up with their local ambulance services will have training provided on how to use the system. Then staff after discussion at their local clinical/MDT meetings can add high risk clients such as; recent prison releases, pregnant clients, young people, severe mental health/high risk suicide clients, severe physical health clients, homeless clients, high risk injecting clients etc to this system. If these clients call for an ambulance the service is notified of why they have called for an ambulance, where they have been conveyed to so that we can directly liaise with the appropriate hospital to confirm any OST medication they are on, and any risks associated with them. Helps us to safeguard and manage safety etc.

  South East ambulance service - Information Sharing example

Analysis of deaths following methadone and buprenorphine use

Link shared by: Caroline Copeland, King's College London

Methadone and buprenorphine-related deaths among people prescribed and not prescribed Opioid Agonist Therapy during the COVID-19 pandemic in England. 36265326/

The English Substance User Commissioners Group

Link shared by: Angela Hall, North Yorkshire County Council

We're in the process of uploading a range of case studies on expansion of Naloxone (across a range of settings) on the English Substance Use Commissioners Group, Preventing Drug and Alcohol Related Deaths Sub-Group page - they're not all uploaded yet, but will include an overview, and details of who to contact for more details: theenglishsubstanceuse commissionersgroup/ preventing-drug-and -alcohol-related-deaths/

From harm to hope: 10 year drugs plan - Guidance for local delivery partners

Link shared by: Angela Hall, North Yorkshire County Council

Guidance for local delivery partners - Page 5 of the attached provides the case definition for the reducing DRDs by 1000

  https://assets.publishing. government/ uploads/ system/ uploads/ attachment_data/ file/ 1083137/ Appendix_2_-_ National_Combating_Drugs_ Outcomes_Framework_FINAL.pdf

Painkiller Addition Information Network (PAIN)

Link shared by: Yasir Abbasi, Westminister Drugs Project

Website with resources relating to opioid pain medication dependence

Substance use and palliative care

Link shared by: Sam Wright, Manchester Metropolitan University

Website with resources and guidance for end-of-live care

ScotPHI Profiles tool

Link shared by: David Macdonald, Glasgow Health and Social Care Partnership

Scottish Public Health Observatory indicators of public health tool ScotPHO_profiles_tool/

Drug overdose detection sensors

News story shared by: John Corkey, University of Hertfordshire

'Life-saving' drug overdose detection sensors coming to Nanaimo hospital washrooms life-saving-drug-overdose-detection-sensors- coming-to-nanaimo-hospital-washrooms-1.6314983

Changing Mortality

Link shared by: Jim McVeigh, Manchester Metropolitan University

Older and sicker: Changing mortality of drug users in treatment in the North West of England article/ abs/ pii/ S0955395910000137

Australian stigma programme

Link shared by: Harry Sumnall, Liverpool John Moores University

Centre for Social Research in Health - The Stigma Research Stream documents and monitors the experiences and expression of stigma and discrimination... csrh/ our-projects/ stigma-research-stream

Naloxone evaluation survey

Link shared by: Harry Sumnall, Liverpool John Moores University

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Nasal Naloxone Pilot Evaluation wp-content/ uploads/2020/11/ Naloxone-Evaluation-2020-01006.pdf

Police Scotland Naloxone evaluation survey

Link shared by: Maggie Page, Scottish Drug Strategy Unit

Evaluation of the police carriage of naloxone pilot in Scotland can be found here wp-content/ uploads/ 2022/04/ Naloxone-in-Police-Scotland_Final_9.2.22.pdf

Naloxone administered by Police Scotland officers

News item shared by: Maggie Page, Scottish Drug Strategy Unit

Naloxone has now been administered at more than 100 incidents by Police Scotland officers as the national roll-out of the opioid reversal nasal spray continues. what-s-happening/ news/2022/ december/ naloxone-administered-by-police

Seasonal, weekly and other cyclical patterns in deaths due to drug poisoning in England and Wales

Link shared by: Harry Sumnall, Liverpool John Moores University

A recent study from Dan Lewer and colleagues suggested seasonality with respect to MDMA/cocaine use (i.e. peak at New Year), but not opioids. Deaths peaked in Spring but they didn't know why. Interestingly no increase in deaths in the first week of the month, when people might be receiving their benefit payments. doi/10.1111/ add.16175

Over 300,000 ‘excess’ deaths attributed to UK government austerity measures

Link shared by: Wayne Gault, NHS Grampian

Glasgow Centre for Population Health, news story and report latest/ news/ 1058

Suspected drug deaths in Scotland - Quarterly Report

Link shared by: David Macdonald, Glasgow Health and Social Care Partnership

Figures for Scotland: There were 1,092 suspected drug deaths between January and December 2022. This was 16% (203) fewer than during the same period of 2021 (1,295). publications/ suspected-drug-deaths-scotland-october-december-2022

Alcohol Related Brain Injury Unit (ARBI)

Link shared by: Katie Harrison, Extern

Leonard Cheshire have an ARBI unit in NI and follow up outreach support. get-support/ living/ find-care-home/ arbi-unit-belfast

Budget reductions and increases in drug related death

Link shared by: Wayne Gault, NHS Grampian

Association between disability-related budget reductions and increasing drug-related mortality across local authorities in Great Britain. 34311390/

Opioid abuse and austerity

Link shared by: Wayne Gault, NHS Grampian

Opioid abuse and austerity: Evidence on health service use and mortality in England. 34763968/

Microsoft Teams

This conference is a Microsoft Teams Webinar. Your experience may be slightly different to a normal Teams Meeting. Here are some of our Tips...

For the best experience use the Microsoft Teams Desktop App.

  • You will see speakers in addition to any presentation slides.

If you are using the ‘web browser’ version of Teams you will have a different experience.

  • You may only see the presentation slides.
  • You can still hear audio, and contribute in the chat.

  • The separate Teams Q&A functionality is not enabled for this webinar, because we're aware that it doesn't work correctly for some 'guest' attendees. Instead the chat is enabled for general discussion as we know most people are more familiar with this feature.

If you would like to contribute in the Q&A sessions, please raise your hand.

  • We can then allow you to unmute yourself.
  • If you are brought into discussion you can enable your mic and camera.

For all attendees:

  • Please use the chat for general discussion.
  • Use the reactions to respond to presentations and discussions.

Presentations online.

  • The presentations and a recording of this webinar will be able on this website shortly after the event.

Featured Videos

Daniel Ahmed: Why I set up a Heroin Assisted Treatment clinic

Daniel Ahmed was the pioneer who set up a Heroin Assisted Treatment clinic in Middlesbrough. In this short film from Transform Daniel explains a bit more about this treatment, why he was keen to introduce it, how he went about getting the clinic set up and the impact of this initiative on the local area.

The Heroin Assisted Treatment programme in Middlesbrough came to an end in December 2022 due to a lack of continued funding.

The Black Review - with Professor Nutt and Dame Carol Black

In 2019 Professor Dame Carol Black was appointed to lead a major 2-part review that looked into the relationship between drugs and violence but also treatment, recovery and prevention of drug addictions.

Listen to this Drug Science Podcast to hear the perspective of a dedicated physician but also a government advisor on the approach to both treatment and social implications of drug addictions.


Many of our speakers are active on Twitter, their handles are included in the agenda listing above.

If you want to tweet about this event please remember to include the tag #DRDevent

Previous themes and discussion topics have included:


How has this changed the offer from services and what will we keep going forward?

Mental Health

What are the barriers to people who use drugs (PWUD) receiving quality mental health care?


How can we keep the homeless population safe from overdose?


What can we be done about increased deaths from controlled medications?

End of Life care / Bereavement

Are PWUD receiving a consistent level of care and what support is there for those left behind?

Legal status

What can be done at a local level to make a difference?


How can we protect people who use drugs from overdose on their release from prison?


How can we ensure it is freely available to those who need it?