Angela Constance: No part of Scotland can be left behind in tackling drug deaths crisis
No part of Scotland can be left behind in the national mission to tackle the country's drug deaths crisis, the minister for drugs policy has said.
Angela Constance updated the Health and Sport Committee this morning on the Scottish Government's work in reversing a trend of rising drug related deaths, which reached a record high of 1,264 in 2019.
The death toll was dubbed a "national disgrace" by the First Minister in January, as she committed to £5m emergency funding until the end of March and a further £50m each year from the start of the new financial year until the end of the next parliament in 2026.
Constance, who was appointed to the dedicated role after Joe FitzPatrick resigned as public health minister in December, was asked by committee convener Lewis Macdonald if interventions would be focused in areas with a higher rate of drug deaths.
Macdonald referenced Dundee, Glasgow and Inverclyde, which had some of the highest average deaths per 1,000 between 2015 and 2019.
Constance said: "The areas with the highest rates of drug deaths are also the areas of highest rates of deprivation and we need to pay focused attention to where the problem is most acute.
"To help with that, some of the initial emergency funding that we released - in particular the £3m to alcohol and drug partnerships - was allocated taking into account the proportion of drug deaths in a particular local authority area.
"It's also important to say that this is a national mission. We can't be leaving behind any area of Scotland.
"I'm very conscious about the needs of rural Scotland, that some of the issues and difficulties there, particularly in terms of delivering services, can be quite different.
"I think we always need to be giving special consideration and flexibility to our island communities.
"So, absolutely we need to be targeting resources to the greatest need, people with the greatest needs, and that points to particular areas of the country, but we must do that in a fashion where we leave no part of the country behind because this is after all a national mission."