First meetings of the new year
The first meetings of the Taskforce in this new year provided a timely opportunity to reflect on what has been achieved, our plans for the year ahead and the challenges we face. The presence of the new Minister for Drugs Policy and the First Minister added an extra dimension to the discussions and reassurance of the Government's determination to tackle Scotland’s unacceptable number of drug-related deaths and to support the on-going work of the Taskforce.
It was a valuable opportunity for me, on behalf of families across Scotland, to restate the priorities identified by our Family Reference Group last year and emphasise the positive actions already taken - wider distribution and use of naloxone, and the development of a national stigma strategy. While looking forward, I am optimistic that the new MAT standards and many of the newly funded Tests of Change will, in time, go a long way to meeting families’ demands for equality of access and removal of all barriers to treatment and care services. With a presumption of family involvement and a cultural change towards a more caring and compassionate approach, based on respect, I believe we are entitled to feel more hopeful about the future.
I certainly remain committed to doing everything I can, along with Taskforce colleagues, to tackle this health emergency, particularly in addressing the stigma that often affects those at risk and their families, and can costs lives.