‘Right to Rehab’ necessary as Scotland’s drug deaths ‘undoubtedly will rise’

Recovery experts have raised the alarm that Scotland’s drug deaths figures “undoubtedly will rise” as people still cannot access rehab and drug treatment programmes.

Douglas Ross will today (Tuesday) join FAVOR Scotland CEO Annemarie Ward, who is also a member of the SNP, to launch a ‘Right to Rehab’ pledge that would enshrine people’s right to access residential rehabilitation services in law, so they can no longer be denied treatment.

Recovery organisation FAVOR Scotland have recently sought senior legal counsel to bring cases to court when people are denied access to rehabilitation or drug treatment.

The ‘Right to Rehab’ policy, which will be brought before the Scottish Parliament in the first week of the new term, contains three parts:

  1. Enshrining a right to the necessary treatment in law.
  2. Producing national standards and referral guidance to increase the accessibility of rehabilitation programmes.
  3. A dedicated, autonomous national funding pot to bypass ADPs and the current broken system.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: “For too long, the government has taken its eye off the ball, by its own admission. Tackling drug deaths has not been a priority and that has to change now. Too many lives have already been lost.

“We will seek to enshrine a Right to Rehab in law to make sure that everyone who wants help gets access to the treatment they need, accompanied by a central fund to bypass the broken system.

“We will keep campaigning and forcing the SNP to act for as long as it takes to improve access to treatment services and get people the help they need to get well.”

FAVOR Scotland CEO Annemarie Ward said: “The situation on the ground is getting worse. Drug death numbers undoubtedly will rise. This is yet another heartbreaking year for the recovery and treatment community.

“We are told funding is coming but it is not reaching the frontline. The current system is broken.

“A postcode lottery has developed and unbelievably, it is people in the hardest hit areas, particularly in Glasgow, who are still being denied access to treatment.

“It is not only a problem with residential rehabilitation. We have advocated for a young man in Edinburgh who has waited eight weeks for a methadone script. Who knows how long it will be before he is referred to rehabilitation.

“Denying access to a viable and successful treatment option, particularly when it is refused purely because someone has been prescribed a higher dose of methadone, is a cruel and short-sighted approach.

 “We have sought counsel and, if we can raise the necessary funds, we hope to mount legal challenges every time someone is denied access to rehabilitation services or delayed access to other substance use treatment.

“We have a problem in Scotland that is not being tackled and FAVOR will work with anyone and everyone to force change and save lives.”

Notes

 

The charity FAVOR Scotland are fundraising to raise legal challenges when someone is denied access to treatment. Where possible, please include the donation link in any online stories: paypal.me/FAVORUK 

 

In December, the Scottish Government announced £20 million funding each year would be dedicated to residential rehabilitation programmes, following calls from FAVOR Scotland, Jericho House, and the Scottish Conservatives (The Herald, 14 December 2020, link).

The Right to Rehab policy pledge that Douglas Ross and Annemarie Ward will sign today is as follows -

 

Right to Rehab

Systemic issues are preventing people who want to get better from accessing recovery treatment services. 

The availability of, and access to, residential rehabilitation and drug treatment services varies substantially across the country.

Despite the announcement of funding reserved for rehab programmes in late 2020, people are still unable to obtain access services easily or, in many cases, at all.

There are problems at various stages of the system. Firstly, people are not being referred to rehab treatment often enough. Secondly, even when someone specifically asks for rehab treatment, the referral process can take up to a year. Thirdly, the biggest issue is the ongoing rejection of people who are seeking rehab and recovery services. They are simply being denied access.

Access to medical treatment is a right. Access to rehabilitation and recovery services is a right.

However, at the moment, in the current system, it is not treated as a right.

Therefore, we support the introduction of a ‘Right to Rehab’ in legislation, ensuring that anyone who requests residential rehabilitation treatment must be provided with access to recovery services.

We also support the introduction of clear and detailed national standard and referral guidance, delivered by a working group including people with lived experience, to improve the accessibility of rehab treatment. This would include guidance to medical professionals requiring that every patient who presents seeking help with alcohol and/or drug problems be informed that rehab is an option and, should they register an interest, providing a clear path of referral to accessing that treatment.

Finally, we support the introduction of a national fund that can bypass the existing drug treatment system, including Alcohol and Drug Partnerships, and instead directly invest in rehabilitation treatment services anywhere in Scotland where it is deemed necessary.

This pledge will be brought before the Scottish Parliament within the first week of the new term.

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