Luke Graham MP raised the issue of drug-related deaths in Scotland in a Westminster Hall Debate on ‘Drug Treatment Services’ on 16th July 2019. The debate was timely following the release of a new report, which produced figures which show that Scotland has the highest number of drug-related deaths in Europe.
The figures, published by the National Record of Scotland, show that the number of drug-related deaths increased significantly to 1,187 in 2018, which is an increase of 27% on the previous year and is a higher figure than the 1,136 recorded for alcohol-specific deaths.
Drug-related deaths in Scotland have almost doubled in eight years, with 934 recorded in 2017, a rate of 170 per million of the adult population. By comparison, there were 3,756 deaths relating to drug poisoning in England and Wales in 2017, a rate of 66 deaths per million.
In Mr Graham’s constituency of Ochil and South Perthshire, drug-related deaths in 2018 increased by 57.9% in Perth and Kinross when compared with 2017, and doubled in Clackmannanshire over the same period. The number of drug-related deaths where solely methadone was implicated increased in Perth and Kinross and Clackmannanshire by 50% and 200% from 2017 – 2018 respectively.
Calling the figures “shocking”, Luke Graham MP said:
“The release of these figures show what an abject failure the current approach to drug abuse and rehabilitation in Scotland has been. As I noted during the Westminster Hall Debate, not only are there three times the average number of drug-related deaths in Scotland than the UK average, but Scotland’s figure is the highest in Europe.
The SNP’s maladministration of Scotland’s healthcare over the past 12 years will have contributed to this issue, and I will not accept the excuse that this is the fault of Westminster as drug policy is reserved; the entirety of the UK is subject to the same laws, so it cannot be that it is all Westminster’s fault when the figures in Scotland are so much higher than the rest of the UK. Devolution is meant to help our constituents, not disadvantage them.
In order to combat this issue effectively, Scotland’s elected representatives will have to set aside their political differences and work across the different levels of governance to create a solution that delivers best for our constituents – this means better policy, not more transfers of powers.”