Nicola Sturgeon to visit working-class community with Douglas Ross
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she will join Douglas Ross on a visit to a working class community after being questioned by the Tory leader on the “national shame” of Scotland’s drugs-death crisis.
Raising the issue at First Minister Question’s, Ross asked Sturgeon whether her government supports his party’s Right to Recovery bill proposal.
The first minister pointed out that the bill proposal is not yet a bill – though stressed there is much common ground within the proposal and her government “remain open-minded to look at the details of the legislation”.
Sturgeon added that speed was important in tackling the nation’s drug-deaths crisis, and said the government “will continue with our current action”, as she “does not think it right to wait for legislation”.
The first minister was asked to join Ross on a visit to the Bluevale Community Centre in Haghill, Glasgow – where he says residents are 18 times more likely to die from drug deaths than those in affluent areas.
The first minister replied: "I'm glad Douglas Ross has accepted my offer to visit a working class community, and my office will be in touch."
Sturgeon then added that poverty is a contributing factor to drug deaths, and the recent £20-a-week cut in Universal Credit will increase poverty levels.
The Conservative leader repeatedly asked the first minister to support the bill proposal at stage one of the legislative process, but Sturgeon said: “I cannot engage with a bill that does not yet exist.”
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar then raised the case of children who died following treatment at the Queen Elizabeth hospital campus in Glasgow, but the first minister said she could not comment due to there being an open police investigation into the death of one of the children, Milly Main, who died at age 10 following an infection at the hospital.
Sarwar said that it took a public campaign by the family for a public inquiry and criminal investigation to be launched, and that "families, campaigners and whistleblowers are still having to take on the system".
The Labour leader said the family of another child who died at the hospital had been “left in the dark”, with no police investigation, and that there should have been two investigations launched the minute the circumstances at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital became apparent.
However, Sturgeon said one of the worst things she could do would be to potentially prejudice an investigation, adding that "it would be deeply improper" for the first minister to direct which criminal investigations should or shouldn't take place.