Plans for expert group to find answers to Scotland’s rising drug deaths

The Scottish Government are to assemble an experrt group to confront the rising number of drug deaths in Scotland.

Public health minister Joe FitzPatrick said “radical steps” were needed to address the “emergency”.

There were 934 drug-related deaths registered in 2017, with the number of people dying more than double the UK average.

The minister said in an article in the Daily Record that an expert group would examine the factors behind the deaths and advise on action.

The Scottish government has faced calls to hold a public inquiry into the problem and MPs on the Scottish Affairs committee recently launched their own investigation.

Mr Fitzpatrick wrote: “I recognise that some people believe a public inquiry would help deliver change. Sadly, these inquiries can often take years to conclude their work. I want us to move considerably faster.

“That is why I will soon be convening an expert group to examine the key drivers of drug deaths and advise on what further changes, either in practice or in the law, could help save lives and reduce harm.”

He also voiced support for the introduction of a medically-supervised safer consumption facility in Glasgow to support people who inject publicly.

Mr FitzPatrick said: “The UK government must recognise what Scotland faces in drug deaths is also an emergency.

“It holds the power to decide if a safe consumption facility can get the legal go-ahead, and so far they have rejected it out of hand.

“If the UK government continues to refuse the act, we call on it to pass powers to the Scottish Parliament so we can do what is necessary.”

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