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 Scotland’s drug death shame is due to Nicola Sturgeon’s wrong priorities

Scotland’s drug death shame is due to Nicola Sturgeon’s wrong priorities

by Dr Bruce Halliday
article from Friday 18, December, 2020

THE GRAPH BELOW of drug deaths in Scotland is so bad it looks like fake news.

But this is real.  

As a GP I have had patients come to see me desperate for help with their drug addiction. They are often accompanied by their distraught mother. The extended family are all adversely impacted. Good people affected by a wrong turn in life, and needing help. These are the people the SNP are letting down.  

The drug death total in Scotland is shameful. 1264 deaths in 2019 – that’s an average of 24 funerals a week for families in Scotland.  

Our death rate from drugs is 15 times worse than Germany and 35 times worse than France. Under the SNP Scotland is the drugs death capital of Europe.  

Drug deaths in Scotland are three-and-a-half times the drug deaths in the UK as a whole yet England and Wales operate under the same drug legislation as Scotland. The number of Scottish drug deaths has increased steadily since 2013. This is failure.  

Claims that the Scottish figures are not comparable with how they are recorded in the rest of the UK are false – don’t take my word for it, read this exposé of the false claims made by SNP supporters after an investigation by The Ferret. 

When the SNP came to power there were 352 rehab beds and 455 annual drug deaths but – after SNP funding cuts – by 2018 the rehab beds had dropped to 70 and the annual drug deaths had risen to 1187. The public health minister was questioned on these figures on STV’s Scotland Tonight but seemed unsure about the figures.  

The public health minister does not inspire confidence but the buck stops with Nicola Sturgeon. This national disgrace is Ms Sturgeon’s responsibility.  

And the SNP knows it is responsible.  

There was a debate recently in the Scottish parliament and the SNP agreed to support a Labour amendment that stated cumulative cuts of £40m over five years had “negatively impacted on the provision and capacity of essential addiction services.” The SNP would not back a Conservative amendment for  £15m of emergency funding because it was not tied to having more powers over drug laws. The SNP continues to put political power before saving lives. 

A recent conference organised by academics Barry Sheridan and Iain McPhee with Labour MSP Neil Findlay claimed there has been a net cut in drugs funding of 50 per cent since 2007.  

The drug deaths are an SNP problem. The SNP’s mono-obsession with separation means real life and death problems are neglected and ignored. 

We must deal effectively with the disgraceful number of drug deaths in Scotland. The current calamity is not inevitable – Portugal in the 1990s was known as the heroin capital of Europe but effected change in 2001 and Portugal now has the lowest drug-related death rate in Western Europe.  

The current drugs death rate in Scotland highlights the need for Scotland to have a government in power that concentrates fully on our vital public services. A Unity coalition government that draws on the talents of all the pro-UK parties would be best placed to make the necessary transformation.

Dr Bruce Halliday is Alliance for Unity health spokesman and a prospective candidate on its South of Scotland regional list.  

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