Edinburgh NHS manager James Shanley nominated for Our Health Heroes lifetime achievement award after work with drug users in the city

An NHS manager who helped change the lives of many drug users and those with HIV across the city has been nominated for a lifetime achievement award.

By Rhoda Morrison
Monday, 17th January 2022, 4:55 am

Let us know what you think and join the conversation at the bottom of this article.

James Shanley, who has managed the NHS Lothian Harm Reduction Team for the majority of his career, has been shortlisted for the accolade, which is part of the national Our Health Heroes awards.

The 62-year-old, who is due to retire soon, has been recognised for his leading work in the fight against HIV in Edinburgh over the last three decades.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

James Shanley has been nominated for a lifetime achievement award

Mental health nurse Con Lafferty, who nominated James, said: “James is a true role model for all those he works with and has cared for.

“He has helped countless people who inject drugs across our city become substance free, get back into employment and live healthy and productive lives.

“There is no one more deserving for this award.”

In the mid-1980s, Edinburgh was known as the HIV capital of Europe, with around 85 per cent of heroin users in the city estimated to have tested positive for HIV.

Over his career, James has led numerous projects to help counter the wave of HIV and Hepatitis C (HCV) infections that hit Edinburgh at that time.

He was involved in developing the Needle Exchange Outreach Network, which helps patients access important services such as opiate substitute treatment, injecting equipment provision, and blood-borne virus testing and treatment.

This network will soon become the national standard for Scotland due to its success in combating drug related deaths in the Capital.

Thanks to James’ dedication and innovative work, alongside that of others in the field, the lives of the most at risk groups in the city have changed for the better and infection levels in Edinburgh and South East Scotland are now well below the national average.

Tracey McKigen, services director of Royal Edinburgh Hospital and associated services, who also put James forward for the award, said: “We are very proud of James in NHS Lothian for everything he has achieved.

“Throughout his career he has shown incredible commitment and his work has undoubtedly saved many lives, reduced HIV rates, and is helping to eradicate HCV as a public health concern by 2024.

“We wish James the best of luck with this award as he truly deserves it.”

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.