Public Health Surveillance - Update August 2021


The Public Health surveillance subgroup has been concluded. This group produced a high level framework for the drugs surveillance system and priorities for implementation. These priorities were informed and influenced by all key stakeholders including statutory providers, Alcohol and Drug Partnerships, National Government, Third Sector and lived and living experience.


The subgroup notes that due to the criminalisation of drug use and the associated stigma, the word surveillance is a contested term. The subgroup recommends that Public Health Surveillance for drugs is understood as a process by which improvements in the care and support for people affected by drug use can be identified and put in place thereby preventing avoidable harm, saving lives and improving life chances.


The development and implementation of the surveillance work is being taken forward by an operations group. The purpose of the operations group is to design the core dimensions of the surveillance system and to support implementation.


The first priority for implementation is the early warning system (EWS). The operations group has met twice, with the second meeting on 2 July 2021. The aim is for EWS to be developed and rolled out by 31 March 2022.Discussions are now underway in terms of alignment to reporting to Scottish Government. Public Health Surveillance is a collaborative endeavour between communities, local health and care organisations and national organisations, an appropriate accountability structure is being designed.