Scottish Drug Deaths Taskforce boss resigned after being told to ‘spee…

Professor Catriona Matheson, an expert in substance misuse from Stirling University, stepped down from her position as chairwoman of the Scottish Government-backed group last month.

The organisation was set up in July 2019 in a bid to curb a rising toll of drug deaths.

Sign up to our public interest bulletins – get the latest news on the Coronavirus

Sign up to our public interest bulletins – get the latest news on the Coronavirus

Prof Matheson was joined by the taskforce’s then vice-chairman, former Police Scotland deputy chief constable Neil Richardson, in her resignation.

She said the final straw for the pair was being asked to “tie things up” and submit conclusions to their work six months earlier than before told.

In response, Drugs Policy Minister Angela Constance, who was appointed in December 2020, said there was a need to move forward as quickly as possible.

But, in a BBC interview, Prof Matheson said she was not prepared to do “a rushed job” in her role.

Read More

Read More

Covid Scotland: Health board cuts GP sets for a month as NHS staff absences …

Former chairwoman of the drug deaths taskforce, Professor Catriona Matheson,

“It was a sign that the work of the taskforce didn’t have the complete sustain really of the minister any longer,” she said.

“We weren’t prepared do a rushed job.

“It would do a great disservice to all the work that is going on.

“And these aren’t research projects, these are frontline service, delivery and inventive ways of delivering new sets to people who are at risk.

“These are happening now and will run for the next year.

“They won’t be finished in six months’ time.”

Drug related deaths reached a record level of 1,339 in Scotland in 2020, with early data for last year showing a slight decline.

The figure is the highest drug death rate recorded by any country in Europe.

Prof Matheson said the group’s work started well, but the since the minister was elected, she had “downplayed” the role of the taskforce in the “national mission” to tackle Scotland’s record drug death figure.

She said the taskforce was working on an evidence-based approach instead of trying to please everybody, and that she hopes hers and Mr Richardson’s resignations will be a “wake-up call” to politicians.

In a written response to the BBC interview, Ms Constance said she had made clear in January last year that the taskforce’s work needed to be accelerated.

She said there was an urgent need to implement changes that would make a real and tangible difference to people’s lives.

“We will continue to build on the momentum established in the first year of the National Mission to enhance and save lives, working with expert groups, frontline workers and those with lived, living and family experience to develop our response to the drug deaths crisis in an evidence-based and effective way,” she said.

She thanked Ms Matheson for her work and said she in contact with the taskforce group.

She also told BBC Scotland’s The Nine: “I was very clear, very consistent, with the taskforce and its leadership, with parliament and other stakeholders, that we need to speed up and extent up in the past year.

“I was very sorry to see Professor Matheson resign, I was slightly surprised… I was surprised in seeking recommendations three years, instead of three and a half years in, it received this response.”

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We’re more reliant on your sustain than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven’t already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.

Click: See details

Leave a Reply