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by Louise Wilson
14 March 2024
Drugs death plan ‘is not working’, First Minister told

The rise in suspected drug deaths was raised at FMQs | Alamy

Drugs death plan ‘is not working’, First Minister told

Action to bring down Scotland’s high rate of drugs death “is not working”, First Minister Humza Yousaf has been told.

Both Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross and Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar raised the matter at First Minister’s Questions on Thursday.

Ross said it was “clear” that drugs deaths were “not a priority” for the Scottish Government after recent figures showed there had been a ten per cent rise in suspected drug-related deaths last year.

And Sarwar said ministers had not done enough to increase the numbers of rehabilitation beds or drug checking facilities.

The first minister said he was “devastated to see the rise” in deaths but the government was taking “significant action” to address the problem.

He said he and his new drugs policy minister, Christina McKelvie, had rededicated themselves to reducing drug deaths.

Police Scotland figures published earlier this week revealed there were 1,197 suspected drug-related deaths over the course of 2023, up from 1,092 the previous year.

While Police Scotland figures do tend to be higher than the official statistics published by the National Records of Scotland each August, they have consistently reported the overall trend correctly.

Ross raised the closure of a facility in Glasgow that supports women with drug addictions.

He added: “The addiction crisis in Scotland is out of control... Scotland’s shame has not gone away. Nicola Sturgeon admitted she’d taken her eye off the ball. Hasn’t Humza Yousaf done the same?”

Sarwar said: “It’s been four and a half years since the SNP government declared a drugs death emergency, three years since the launch of their national mission to reduce drug deaths, and almost two years since the final report of the drugs death taskforce. Yet in the last year, 1,197 more people have died – incompetence has consequences.”

Yousaf pointed to funding for addiction services being maintained in this year’s budget, and on the Glasgow facility he said that had been a local authority decision.

He also said naloxone, medication administered to prevent a lethal overdose, had been made more available and a safe consumption room trial was to launch in Glasgow.

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Read the most recent article written by Louise Wilson - Humza Yousaf says he ‘values’ Bute House Agreement as Greens face rebellion.



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