21st January 2021
The Scottish Government has pledged an extra £250 million over the next five years to address the current public health emergency of drug-related deaths.
In a Ministerial statement on drugs policy to the Scottish Parliament yesterday, the First Minister said the additional funding was part of “a national mission to end what is currently a national disgrace”.
1,264 people died of a preventable drug overdose in 2019, a record number for the sixth year running.
The funding consists of an additional £5 million that will be delivered in what remains of this financial year which is to be deployed for “urgent” initial work, which includes the opening of additional placements in residential rehabilitation.
Should the current Government return after May’s Scottish Parliament election, a further £50m per year will then be committed.
The First Minister outlined a number of areas where the funding will be directed, which include:
- reducing stigma and increasing the number of people in treatment
- extending the provision of heroin-assisted treatment
- extending the provision of long-acting opioid replacement treatment
- widening the distribution of naloxone
- improving toxicology services
- improving public health surveillance
- implementing new standards for medicine-assisted treatment
- increasing the number of residential rehabilitation beds across the country
- to Alcohol and Drug Partnerships, third sector and grassroots organisations to improve work in communities
Responding to the announcement, David Liddell, SDF’s CEO, said:
“This is a comprehensive initial response which will be roundly welcomed by people working in the drugs field and by people affected by drug problems, their families and communities. It results from recent engagement by Government Ministers who have obviously been in listening mode.
“The personal involvement by the First Minister is welcome as it will be taken as an indicator of the strength of Government commitment and will help ensure that change happens at a much faster pace than we have seen to date. We must remember that fatal overdoses are not inevitable and are all potentially preventable.
“The commitments made in terms of service development are the early steps in providing a comprehensive effective treatment system. The delivery of that system must be the priority as the evidence is clear – we need to increase treatment capacity, accessibility and quality. Being in treatment is the key means to prevent drug overdose deaths.”