Scottish Government needs a new era of drugs policy radicalism

Speaking ahead of the publication of new drugs deaths statistics which are expected to show that Scotland is once again the drugs death capital of Europe, Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP has today urged the Scottish Government to kickstart a new era of drugs policy radicalism. 

The party is urging the Scottish Government to: 

  • take radical steps with the prosecution authorities and the Lord Advocate to help establish heroin assisted treatment and safe consumption spaces. 
  • establish new specialist Family Drug and Alcohol Commissions to help provide wraparound services and to take a holistic approach to those reported for drug offences, learning from best international practice such as that in Portugal.  
  • Divert people caught in possession of drugs for personal use into education, treatment and recovery, ceasing imprisonment in these circumstances. 
  • Adopt the principle that individuals and families shouldn’t have to pay for the care and treatment of those at risk of death from drugs or alcohol. 

 

These proposals build on two landmark votes at Parliament won recently by the Scottish Liberal Democrats, first securing support for the principle of decriminalisation and then requesting that the new Lord Advocate immediately get to work on it.

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Rise in mental health detentions skipping key safeguard

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP has today warned that the rights of people with mental ill health are at risk after a new report revealed that just 4 in 10 mental health detentions were carried out with the consent of specialist staff.

Figures published by the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland reveal that just 43.8% of emergency detentions in Scotland between March 2020 and February this year were carried out with the consent of a specialist mental health social worker. The report also notes that there were 9.1% more detentions compared with the previous year, with 10,059 records of people with mental ill health deemed to need urgent treatment in crisis situations.

Commenting on the report, Mr Cole-Hamilton said:

"Peoples' rights have been breached year after year because of the scandalous under-provision of every type of mental health staff. It’s small wonder that the UN Committee on the Rights with People with disabilities should repeatedly upbraid Scotland on the Government’s record here.

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Carmichael: no more gimmicky schemes around vaccine passports

Responding to comments from Deputy First Minister John Swinney on Good Morning Scotland in which he said that barring people who refuse a coronavirus vaccination from certain large events is the wrong approach, Alistair Carmichael MP said:

"For months SNP ministers have flitted back and forward over the introduction of vaccine passports. You would be forgiven for suspecting that they would like to impose “Covid ID” but are just embarrassed that the Tories got there first.

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Lib Dems offer suggestions to boost Young Person's Guarantee

Responding to the Scottish Government's announcement of funding for the Young Person's Guarantee, interim leader Alistair Carmichael MP said:

"For too many young Scots the pandemic has set back their plans for learning, earning and getting ahead in life.

"A government guarantee of education, training or a job for all young Scots is something that all parties are united behind. 

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"Scalebacks and spin" won't strengthen Test and Protect

Responding to the publication of new Test and Protect statistics, Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP commented:

"The Scottish Government were totally unprepared for the recent rise in case numbers. The tracing system should never have collapsed in the way it did.

"Some tracing activities were switched off altogether, critical interviews were scaled back dramatically and today the goalposts are moving in how delays are reported.

 

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Cole-Hamilton sets out ministerial to-do list to support easing of restrictions

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP has today set out a to-do list of areas in which the Health Secretary must take action including measures to boost vaccine uptake among young people, improve the performance of the Protect Scotland app and extra contact tracing staff.

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A&E pressure shows worst weekly figures since 2018

New statistics released by Public Health Scotland show A&E departments continue to struggle as the four-hour target time dropped again to a new lowest level since January 2018.

Only 78.7% of people attending A&E were seen within four hours. The target set by the Scottish Government is 95%. 

Data from NHS Forth Valley reveals that out of 1,211 patients only 58.3% were seen within the 4 hours target.

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP said:

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Cole-Hamilton urges ministers to hit the phones to boost vaccine uptake

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton has today said that ministers must hit the phones and ensure that everyone who has not yet had a vaccine receives a phone call to offer an appointment and win over any waverers.

His proposals come after days of discussion of figures showing lower uptakes for vaccines among the younger age groups.

Mr Cole-Hamilton said:

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Highlands sees 1000% covid surge in six weeks

Far North MP Jamie Stone has today urged tourists to "act with caution" after new analysis revealed that the Highlands have seen a 1000% increase in covid cases in the past six weeks.

Analysis by The Herald, reveals that the month of June recorded a fifth of NHS Highland’s total number of cases since the start of the pandemic. During the June 10 - June 22 week the following covid cases have been recorded

  • Inverness saw a 300% increase;
  • Wick saw a 225% increase;
  • Thurso saw a 150% increase.

 

Responding to the figures, Jamie Stone MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross said:

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Tory Brexit has penalised elderly EU citizens

Scottish Liberal Democrat interim leader Alistair Carmichael has today highlighted new figures released by the House of Lords European Affairs Committee which reveal that only 2% of all applications for the EU Settlement Scheme were from people aged over 65, reigniting new concerns on the current status of EU nationals living in the UK.

Alistair Carmichael said:

“Liberal Democrats have extensively warned the government of potential issues that could affect the lives of thousands of EU citizens who chose to make the UK their home. 

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