NHS Health Scotland
Scottish Affairs Committee call for public health approach to drug use
The Scottish Affairs Committee recently (04 November 2019) 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, recently 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, recently said:
“Yesterday’s 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
Monitoring and Evaluation of Rights, Respect and Recovery10/03/2020 14:15:00
NHS Health Scotland yesterday published a framework to evaluate ‘Rights, Respect and Recovery’ – Scotland’s strategy to improve health by preventing and reducing alcohol and drug use, harm and related deaths.
Comment on latest Scottish suicide statistics18/02/2020 15:15:15
The latest ScotSID Unscheduled Care report (February 2020) is drawn from the Scottish Suicide Information Database.
NHS Health Scotland welcomes wellbeing approach to economy31/01/2020 16:05:00
NHS Health Scotland welcomes the First Minister’s move to prioritise a wellbeing approach to Scotland’s economy.
NHS Health Scotland comment on the Long-term Monitoring of Health Inequalities report29/01/2020 16:15:00
A report released by the Scottish Government yesterday shows that health inequalities remain one of Scotland’s biggest challenges.
Analysis of off-trade alcohol sales in year post MUP published29/01/2020 09:15:00
The first analysis of off-trade alcohol sales over the full year following the introduction of Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) shows the volume of pure alcohol sold per adult in Scotland fell by 3.6%.
First study published into under 18 drinkers post MUP24/01/2020 09:15:00
Interviews with young people under 18 years old who reported drinking alcohol found that Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) did not impact on the their acquisition, consumption or related behaviours, either positively or negatively.
New evaluation shows the Cost of the School Day programme can make a difference to children21/01/2020 14:15:00
An evaluation led by NHS Health Scotland has found that action to reduce school-related costs is effective in helping more schools to be sensitive to poverty and more children to participate in school.
Vaccinate globally and reduce cancer-causing HPV in Scotland16/12/2019 15:10:00
In the lead up to Christmas NHS Health Scotland is encouraging Scotland’s S1 school children to learn about the HPV vaccine being provided to boys and girls this academic year, and gift a vaccine for a child in a developing country through UNICEF by completing Kids Boost Immunity (KBI) lessons.