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Cole-Hamilton: Drug hospitalisations show need for real reform

September 26, 2017 1:00 PM
Originally published by Scottish Liberal Democrats

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP today called on the Scottish Government to overhaul its approach to drug misuse after new figures revealed a steep rise in the number of drug-related hospital stays.

New statistics published today showed the number of drug-related hospital stays has risen by more than 50% over the last decade. It increased from 114 per 100,000 people to 181, per 100,000 in 2015/16.

Mr Cole-Hamilton said:

"These new figures are absolutely shocking. Services are clearly struggling to engage with people who have used drugs for years - the so-called trainspotting generation - particularly in more deprived areas.

"Drug-related hospitalisations, just like drug deaths, are now at their highest ever level. There is little prospect of this shameful record changing unless the Scottish Government commits to real reform. Restoring the money it cut from drug and alcohol services is a small start but we remain leagues behind our European partners and best practice.

"It is time both the Scottish and UK Governments adopted approaches that are in line with the mainstream medical and scientific evidence of what works. Reform of our failing strategies would alleviate the burden on the NHS, free up the justice system to tackle the organised crime groups behind the illegal drugs trade and ensure people who need treatment get help instead of being sent behind bars."