Cole-Hamilton calls for UN intervention over drugs death crisis

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has today used his speech to the federal Liberal Democrat conference to propose that the World Health Organisation send a team of drug mortality experts to Scotland to help get the public health disaster under control. 

Mr Cole-Hamilton said: 

“Scotland has the worst drug mortality in the developed world. It is nearly four times the rate of England and Wales.   

“Time and again, the SNP government have shown themselves unequal to the task of reducing this devastating problem in Scotland. In fact five years ago, with rates rising and records already mounting, Nicola Sturgeon saw fit to cut budgets to drug services by 22%, sending organisations to the wall and severing support.  

“Last year we posted a new grim record on drug deaths, triggering a ministerial reshuffle and the introduction of a dedicated post reporting directly to the First Minister.   

“On her appointment, the new minister made it clear that first and foremost we just need to stop people dying. She had both my agreement and support for that ambition.   

“But nine months later people continue to die at the same rate as before. New statistics indicate that last year’s terrible record will be matched.   

“The SNP claim that these deaths are a result of UK Government policy. That is a fallacy. If this were the fault of reserved powers or austerity, we would see the same rates of people dying on the streets of London as we see in Glasgow.  

“We don’t. Glasgow is 10 times worse. This is a particularly Scottish problem, which now demands international attention.  

“That is why this morning I have written to the Director General of the World Health Organisation, asking him to mobilise and send a task force of global experts on drug mortality to Scotland to help get this public health disaster under control.” 

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