Thatcherism linked with drug deaths in NHS report

Written by Tom Freeman on 26 July 2017 in News

Rise in income inequality caused "erosion of hope" and may have contributed to levels of drug deaths since, report finds

Thatcher and Reagan - PA

A growth in drug-related deaths in Scotland since the 1980s and 1990s can be linked to the political and social effects of inequality brought about by economic policy under Margaret Thatcher, a report for NHS Health Scotland has found.

Drug deaths in Scotland have risen steadily since 1995, and University of Glasgow researchers say men of 'Generation X' - those born in the late 1960s and 1970s - have been particularly at risk.

Income inequality increased rapidly during the 1980s as a result of free market economics, and the report suggests the impact of an "erosion of hope" is still being felt.


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High unemployment levels and diminishing support in more deprived areas have contributed to a "delayed negative health impact", the report found.

The research has been released to coincide with the meeting of senior leaders in health being convened today by the Scottish Government to discuss the future of drugs policy.

Dr Jon Minton from the University of Glasgow said: "The same kind of pattern we have observed and reported on previously regarding the risk of suicide in vulnerable cohorts in deprived areas in Scotland is repeated, and even more clearly visible, when looking at trends in drug-related death risk.

"For people born in 1960s and 70s, the risk of drug-related deaths throughout the life course was much increased, and gender and area inequalities in these risks increased even more."

NHS Health Scotland's Dr Andrew Fraser added: "We are hopeful that the findings will be useful in informing current and future policy to help prevent the creation of further cohorts at greater risk of drug-related deaths in Scotland."

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