Calls for third sector-led drug services review

Wednesday 17th July 2019

The Scottish Conservatives have called on the government to commission third sector organisations to carry out a review of all Scotland’s drug recovery services after figures published yesterday revealed 1,187 drug-related deaths occurred in Scotland in 2018.

With a drugs death rate three times higher than the UK average, the Conservatives are rejecting the SNP administration’s calls for a safer drug consumption facility, instead calling for a review of methadone programmes and consideration of fast-track residential rehabilitation places.

Methadone, the medication prescribed by the NHS to help heroin users, contributed to nearly half of all deaths and featured more often than the drug it’s meant to safely replace.

Annie Wells, the Scottish Conservative public health spokesperson, said:

“The crisis in relation to drugs-related deaths in Scotland should now be a number one concern for this SNP government…As these figures show, whatever drugs strategies [the Government] has adopted have only made things worse.

“They should be focusing their efforts on rehabilitation and abstinence-based recovery, the very services they have cut to the bone.”

In a strategy published last year, the opposition party claimed the measures it wanted to see introduced in Scotland would cut drug deaths by 50%.

These include what the party describes as a ‘second chance plan’ for individual using drugs caught for the first time, and personalised ‘life plans’ to help people beat their addiction.

“We need to see a new approach which firstly ends drug and alcohol partnerships being the Cinderella service in the NHS,” says Miles Briggs, Conservative health spokesperson.

“It is a shocking indictment of 20 years of failed drug and alcohol policies under Labour, Liberal Democrat and SNP governments that we see Scotland today now record the highest drug deaths anywhere in Europe.

 “We are the only party which has brought forward a radical new approach to redesign and invest in addiction services and rehabilitation across Scotland.

“That is why we want to see action now from SNP minsters to instigate a third sector-led review of all recovery services in Scotland, a review of the methadone programme, and new fast-track residential rehabilitation places.

“SNP ministers have taken the regressive decisions to cut alcohol and drug partnership budgets in the past which has resulted in the destabilisation of services across the country.

“It’s time for a radical new approach that gives people with addictions and their families hope.”