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Drug death statement response: SNP stall on Right to Recovery Bill

The SNP Government have been told to “wake up” and listen to those on the frontline of Scotland’s drug deaths crisis.

New statistics published on Tuesday showed that Scotland’s drug death rate is now approximately five times higher than England or Wales.

Scottish Conservative Leader Douglas Ross criticised Nicola Sturgeon for a lack of leadership after the First Minister left a ministerial statement on the drug death crisis to junior minister Angela Constance.

Following Constance’s statement, the Scottish Conservative Leader asked directly if the government would back the party’s Right to Recovery Bill.

The SNP drug minister said it would be given “serious consideration” but deflected on whether the government would back the Bill.

In her statement, Constance reiterated funding and actions that the Scottish Government announced months ago.

The drugs minister also indicated that none of the government’s new standards have been introduced yet. The standards, which the Scottish Conservatives and frontline campaigners have criticised for lacking teeth, are not scheduled to be fully enacted until April 2022.

Scottish Conservative Leader Douglas Ross said: “This crisis requires decisive action from the top. It demands leadership.

“But where is the First Minister? She wasn’t at a memorial in Glasgow on Friday and she’s not speaking for her government today.

“It’s not enough for Nicola Sturgeon to say she took her eye off the ball. Words are not going to solve this crisis. People need action.

“For the seventh year in a row, drug deaths have peaked. Our drug death rate is close to four times higher than any other country in Europe and five times worse than south of the border. If you live in a poorer area, you are 18 times more likely to die from drugs.

“Behind all of those shocking statistics are lost loved ones and broken families.

“When is the First Minister and this government going to wake up? When will she stop abandoning our communities? When is she going to listen to those on the frontline?

“Our Right to Recovery Bill proposal has been developed by frontline experts to guarantee everyone gets the treatment they need. It’s backed by seven recovery organisations and, apparently, some SNP MSPs. It would cut through the broken treatment system and save lives.

“Angela Constance speaks of giving this Bill serious consideration and that’s welcome. But while the SNP Government wait to take action, more lives will be lost.

“They’re stalling on backing the Bill instead of taking the bold and urgent action necessary.”

Notes

The Right to Recovery Bill proposal is here: https://www.scottishconservatives.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Right-to-Recovery.pdf