Sturgeon: Harwood criticises 'inaction' on Scotland drug deaths
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Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been urged to act after she admitted she had taken her “eye off the ball” when it was revealed drug deaths had almost tripled under the SNP. Scottish Conservatives Shadow Public Health Minister Sue Webber MSP said there was “little evidence of it being tackled seriously” by the SNP.
ONS figures released last year showed that in 2020, there were 1,339 drug-related deaths registered in Scotland, which is 5 percent more than in 2019 and the largest number since records began in 1996.
This is almost triple the 455 recorded in 2007 when the SNP came to power.
Ms Webber told Express.co.uk it was a “national shame”.
She said: “Scotland’s drugs death figures are the worst in Europe and a source of national shame.
“Among a string of domestic policy failures during their 15 years in office – the seemingly inexorable rise in the number of Scots dying from substance abuse is the most shocking indictment of the SNP’s record in government.
“Nicola Sturgeon admitted last year that they had taken their eye off the ball on this issue, but still we’re seeing little evidence of it being tackled seriously by them.”
She urged the SNP to get behind the Scottish Conservatives’ Right to Recovery Bill, which would enshrine in law the right of everyone with an addiction to receive treatment – including residential rehab.
Ms Sturgeon has previously admitted her and her government “took our eye off the ball”.
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Speaking in Parliament in April 2021said: “I think we took our eye off the ball on drug deaths and I’ve said as much to the Scottish Parliament.
“I set out at the start of this year a £250 million investment programme to build up rehabilitation services, including residential rehabilitation, to make sure we give more support to community services, to make sure we provide faster access to treatment. We have a task force working on all that.
“I take the view when politicians get things wrong, and we all get things wrong, it is really important to face up that, it is important to recognise that and it is important to set out what we will do to fix that.
“That’s what I have done on drugs deaths. I’ve appointed a minister to lead forward that work and we are determined to turn that around.”
Angela Constance was appointed to the drugs death ministerial role.
Express.co.uk has contacted the SNP for comment.
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