MPs pushed for drug deaths action

Tuesday 9th July 2019

Joe FitzPatrick, the Public Health Minister, will today call on MPs to change the law to allow the Scottish Government to bring in safer drugs consumption facilities to help to tackle rising drugs deaths.

The Dundee MSP is giving evidence to the Scottish Affairs Committee as it investigates how to address deaths linked to substance use.

Ahead of his appearance in Westminster, Mr FitzPatrick, who says drug use should be treated as a public health, not criminal, issue, is calling on the UK Government to “either act now to allow for medically supervised safer consumption facilities, or to devolve the power to the Scottish Parliament so that we can act.”

Both governments are currently in a standoff over whether to allow the introduction of safe consumption facilities that are routinely used abroad to reduce overdose deaths.

Mr FitzPatrick said there is “strong evidence” for such a move, after last week announcing a new expert taskforce would be looking to add more weight to calls for the Home Office to change its policy.

“What Scotland faces in terms of drug-related deaths is an emergency, and this is why I am convening a taskforce to advise on what further changes, in practice or in law, could help save lives and reduce harm,” he said.

The plea to MPs comes after a charity launched a campaign highlighting the hidden contribution of family members who fight to keep relatives grappling with addiction alive.

Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol & Drugs warns cutting people’s families out of their care and treatment often ‘increases the risk of harm and death.’

Midlothian mother Sandra told of her personal drive to change addiction services in her area after her daughter experienced “horrendous” support.