Nicola Sturgeon admits SNP ‘didn’t get it right’ with drug deaths
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Harrowing figures released by National Records of Scotland has revealed 1,339 people died in 2020 with causes linked to substances. The new statistics, a 5 percent increase on 2019, have been condemned by opposition figures as a “Scotland’s shame” despite a drug recovery minister being appointed last year.
Scotland’s drugs policy minister Angela Constance has described the increase in drug-related deaths as “heart-breaking”.
But she reiterated the Scottish Government’s determination to continue its work to address the crisis.
She said this morning: “Once again, the statistics on drug-related deaths are heart-breaking.
“I want to offer my sincere condolences to everyone who has lost a loved one through drug use.
“We need to gather as much information as we can about drug use in Scotland and to that end, data on suspected drug deaths will be published quarterly from this September.
“This will ensure we can react more quickly and effectively to this crisis and identify any emerging trends.”
Frontline recovery groups have come out to back the principle of the Scottish Tories for a Right to Recovery Bill to tackle the issue.
The Bill would enshrine in law that everyone can immediately access the treatment they need.
Annemarie Ward, CEO of drug charity FAVOR Scotland, said: “Behind Friday’s statistics lie thousands of distraught families and communities in pieces.
“The drug crisis will be Scotland’s shame until the government is brave enough to do what is necessary.
“Just now, the Scottish Government is not acting quickly enough to tackle the drug death crisis on our streets.
“They are doing just enough to limit the damage, not to solve the crisis.”
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Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said a “united national effort” was needed to tackle the “national shame.”
The Moray MP said: “These latest statistics are horrifying and heartbreaking.
“Behind every number is a lost loved one and a broken family.
“These shocking figures alone cannot capture the agony, pain and devastation that the drugs crisis is causing in communities across Scotland.
“The drugs crisis is our national shame. It is a stain on Scotland that so many of our most vulnerable people have been left without hope, crushed by a system that is thoroughly broken.
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“This is not a day for political posturing but it is a simple fact that the government’s small steps are not cutting it.
“The crisis is getting worse and spiralling out of control.”
Alex-Cole Hamilton MSP, Scottish Lib Dem health spokesperson, said: “This will be a terribly hard day for all those who lost a loved one last year. Each and every life lost is a tragedy.
“It was Nicola Sturgeon’s choice to ignore this unfolding epidemic. Issuing apologies now is too late for thousands of people.
“The victims of drugs and their families were failed. It is a scar on the conscience of this Scottish Government.”
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