NHS Health Scotland
Scottish Affairs Committee call for public health approach to drug use
The Scottish Affairs Committee has published the report of their comprehensive inquiry into problematic drug use in Scotland.
We welcome the committee’s call for the UK Government to adopt a public health approach to drugs policy, as well as their recommendations to review the impact of welfare sanctions and support radical, whole-system change to address the root causes of problem drug use. There is significant evidence that poverty and deprivation are the main structural drivers contributing to problematic drug use in Scotland, with drug-related harm a common symptom of wide levels of inequality.
Together with NHS Health Scotland, Health Protection Scotland and Information Services Division (both part of NHS National Services Scotland), provided written and oral evidence to the committee. The three organisations will soon join to form Public Health Scotland – whose remit will include providing national leadership around tackling the harms associated with drugs in Scotland.
Further to the research evidence we provided to the inquiry, we look forward to supporting both the UK Government and the Scottish Government to achieve the recommendations put forward in this report. We commend the committee for the detailed picture of drug use in Scotland they built up: particularly the lived experience of the causes and the range of evidence-based solutions proposed. However, to implement the scale of change so urgently needed it will also be necessary to set benchmarks for progress at both local and national level, if we are to ensure that reform is being delivered.
Elinor Dickie, Public Health Intelligence Advisor at NHS Health Scotland, said:
“In 2018 Scotland once again saw a record number of people lose their life to a drug-related death. The existing approach is not working. We would urge the Scottish and UK governments to do whatever it takes to bring about the systematic changes needed to reduce harm and save lives.
“The Scottish Affairs Committee call for clear, innovative and evidence-based action to be taken. In particular action is needed to address the factors that cause problematic drug use: like tackling poverty and reducing childhood adversity. We must also address the impact of stigma.
“If delivered, the recommendations of this report will help fully realise the potential of a joined up public health approach to drug use, bringing together aspects of policing, justice, employment, social security, housing and mental health services to support individuals in need”.
Dr Andrew McAuley, Principal Scientist at Health Protection Scotland, said:
“This report recognises the impact of poverty and inequality on drug use in Scotland, but there is evidence of what we can do immediately to keep people safe. That includes proper funding for specialist drug treatment services, in order to increase access, capacity and retention, and help keep people safe.
“The changes to legislation the committee recommend – which include allowing for the lawful pilot of a safer consumption facility, through the devolution of powers if necessary – would also support the delivery of a public health approach to drug use in Scotland. Drug-related harms, and drug-related deaths, are preventable”.
To find out more about drug use and health inequalities, see the Drugs section of our website.
Latest News from
NHS Health Scotland
Scottish Affairs Committee call for public health approach to drug use07/11/2019 13:47:00
The Scottish Affairs Committee recently (04 November 2019) published the report of their comprehensive inquiry into problematic drug use in Scotland.
Experts gather in Scotland for summit to tackle poverty and inequality05/11/2019 09:15:00
Leaders from across Scotland are gathering in Glasgow to address the country’s significant public health challenges.
NHS Digital’s Clinical Adviser for maternity wins a Gold Chief Midwifery Officer Award29/10/2019 09:15:00
A Clinical Adviser at NHS Digital who is leading the charge to digitise maternity services has been recognised with a special gold award from England’s Chief Midwifery Officer.
Scotland’s National Transport Strategy going the right direction for public health25/10/2019 09:15:00
NHS Health Scotland welcome Scotland’s National Transport Strategy as part of a whole system approach for good health and wellbeing. Transport is a fundamental part of the places we live in, which are important determinants of health, and should be central to their development and design.
A public health approach to justice21/10/2019 14:15:00
Today, Scotland is host to a major conference aimed at changing lives by strengthening links between public health and the justice system.
Response to winter mortality figures 2018/1916/10/2019 11:15:00
Figures released yesterday by National Records of Scotland show that fewer deaths were registered in Scotland last winter than in previous years.
Challenge poverty? Aye, we can and we must08/10/2019 10:05:00
NHS Health Scotland recognises the severe effect poverty has on health and that’s why we’re proud to support Challenge Poverty Week. The campaign, led by The Poverty Alliance, is an opportunity to showcase solutions for poverty, and thus addressing a key driver of health inequalities in Scotland.
MUP had modest short-term economic impact on alcohol drinks industry in Scotland03/10/2019 09:15:00
In an initial assessment of the effects of Minimum Unit Pricing, participants reported that a decrease in alcohol sold was offset by increased prices.