ALBA MP Calls for “National Mission” to Eradicate Scotland’s Drugs Death Crisis

ALBA Party have today called for a National Mission to tackle the "tragic and unacceptable" level of drugs deaths in Scotland.

Neale Hanvey MP, ALBA Party’s Westminster leader, says that party politics must be put to one side and for "every consideration to be on the table". He claims wide cross party support for a package of measures that can reduce Scotland’s still high level of drugs deaths must be the priority of the Scottish Government.

The ALBA Party Westminster leader says that "Although drug deaths have not increased this year, a modest drop is an announcement no one can celebrate. Far too many people continue to die and the latest drug death figures still place Scotland with the highest level of drugs deaths in all of Europe and second only to the United States across the world."

In new figures published today, 1,051 people died of drug misuse in 2022. The figure is down by 279 compared to 1,330 drug deaths in 2021, but this is still more than three times the number of drug deaths from two decades ago.

Mr Hanvey, who spent decades working in the NHS before being elected as an MP, wants to see a “National Mission” created to set out a package of measures that can “radically and drastically reduce the scourge of drug deaths suffered in Scotland.”

Hanvey says that "a political consensus exists to tackle the issue but sadly the deaths of vulnerable people are being used as a political football without any substantial change being enacted to tackle the crisis".

ALBA Party want all political parties to join together with the public sector and charities with lived experience to establish a consensus on measures that can be agreed so that “lives aren’t lost whilst politicians argue and point score.”

Commenting Alba Party Westminster leader Neale Hanvey MP said:

"Between 1996 and 2013, there was a steady rise in yearly drug misuse deaths in Scotland rising from 244 to 527. It is clear though that although the Scottish Parliament began to make progress on stabilising and addressing the increase, numbers have rocketed for most of the past decade.

"Be in no doubt, poverty and deprivation drive substance misuse and drug deaths. In 2001, people living in Scotland's poorest areas were 10 times more likely to suffer a fatal drug overdose; twenty years later, that difference has risen to 15 times more likely. This is completely unacceptable. These are real people who once had dreams and ambitions like the rest of us.

"The Scottish Government declared a drug deaths emergency in 2019, yet we are long past the time where the Covid pandemic can be used to justify any further delay in bringing forward substantial and meaningful change to address the crisis.

"While there is political consensus that our drug death rates are unacceptable, there is no consensus at all on how we achieve this as a country. It is time for political leaders to put party politics to one side and to embrace the best ideas from across the political spectrum and commence a national mission to eradicate the tragedy of Scotland’s excessive drugs death crisis."

Mr. Hanvey will hold a Special Conference later this year which will invite stakeholders from all across the political spectrum, public sector bodies, third sector agencies, charities and initiatives with lived experience of drugs treatment to agree a national mission and strategy with cross party support on measures needed to tackle Scotland’s Drug Deaths Crisis.

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