Politics

Nicola Sturgeon squirms as Scotland’s drug figures labelled ‘indictment’ of SNP failure

Sturgeon grilled over Scotland’s drug death figures

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was quizzed by ITV’s Julie Etchingham over the SNP’s handling of public health resources after they spent millions of pounds in an attempt to tackle drug abuse across the country but saw hardly any change. Ms Etchingham added that the latest drug figures for Scotland are an “absolute indictment” of the SNP.

The ITV journalist said: “One of the big things looming in 2021 is the Scottish Parliamentary elections.

“Your critics will point to your record on the NHS and education which you wanted to be judged on.

“I wanted to ask you about something very specific which is Scotland’s drug deaths.

“There are some damning figures out tomorrow, isn’t this an absolute indictment of the SNP’s handling of public health resources?”

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The SNP leader replied: “It is not acceptable and I as First Minister leading an SNP Government take responsibility for both the situation and also taking the action to resolve the situation.”

Ms Etchingham replied: “You have spent millions on it, you have established a task force, why are the figures no better?”

Ms Sturgeon said: “I can’t comment on figures from tomorrow that I have not seen yet, we will obviously respond to the figures tomorrow.

“The point I am trying to make here is that with a complex and very serious challenge like this it does take time to turn that around.”

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Scotland’s drug figures have since been published, showing a 6 percent rise in drug deaths from 2018.

The figure of 1,264 drug-related deaths in Scotland is the nation’s worst level in history.

Scotland has the worst record in Europe and a rate that is three and a half times that in Wales and England.

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The drug figures were released six months late than scheduled because of a backlog due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The average age of drug-related deaths in Scotland is now 42. 

The number has increased from an average age of 28 compared to two decades ago.

Two-thirds of those that died as a result of drugs were aged 35-45. 

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