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Tories lodge drugs Bill as residential rehab review published

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has called for cross-party support for the Bill (Michal Wachucik/PA)
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has called for cross-party support for the Bill (Michal Wachucik/PA)

The Scottish Conservatives are set to introduce a “game-changing” Bill to tackle drug deaths as a government review of residential rehabilitation shows the treatment helps those struggling with addiction.

Party leader Douglas Ross will lodge the Right To Recovery (Scotland) Bill in Holyrood on Monday, legislation which was backed by 77% of respondents in a public consultation.

The Bill will enshrine in law the legal right to treatment for addiction requested by doctors.

Nicola Sturgeon speaking
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon previously said she was ‘open-minded’ about backing the Bill (Russell Cheyne/PA)

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon previously said she was “open-minded” when it came to supporting the Bill, with drugs minister Angela Constance reiterating on Monday that she wants to see the legislation first before deciding on the Government’s stance.

Mr Ross said: “I would urge MSPs from across the Parliament to back Right To Recovery. The current approach to drug and alcohol addiction clearly isn’t working, so radical but common-sense action is required – and this Bill is that.

“The response to it from stakeholders – including charities, support groups, tenants’ associations and churches – was overwhelmingly positive at the consultation stage. Now it’s time for us politicians to get it enacted.”

Even with the support of all opposition parties in Holyrood, the legislation would still not have enough votes to pass, meaning the SNP and Green voting bloc would be needed to pass the Bill.

But the drugs minister refused to say if her Government would provide that support.

“I’ve always said it will be given a very fair and sympathetic hearing,” she told BBC Radio Scotland.

“We will want to look at the detail – what they’re lodging today is a final proposition.”

She added: “I want to see their Bill. I’m not being unreasonable here or unhelpful – this is about how we make people’s rights real in practice on the ground.”

The lodging of the Bill at Holyrood comes as a review commissioned by the Scottish Government said residential rehabilitation can provide better outcomes for those struggling with addictions.

Ministers commissioned a literature review to look over research from the past two decades on the issue, finding “a relatively robust body of evidence suggests that residential rehabilitation is associated with improvements across a variety of outcomes relating to substance use, health and quality of life”.

But the review stated that a number of areas are still “under-researched” and “require further exploration”.

On the review, Ms Constance said: “Getting people into the treatment and recovery that is right for them at the right time is at the core of our national mission to save and improve lives, and residential rehabilitation is one of a wide range of options.

“The findings of this review are encouraging and support our decision to allocate £100 million to residential rehabilitation over the course of this Parliament.

“We have increased funding to alcohol and drug partnerships to improve access to residential rehabilitation and are clear it should be part of a full range of drug prevention and treatment services available in all local authority areas.

“We are also investing a further £10 million per year to support the delivery of medication-assisted treatment standards over the next four years, which mean people who use drugs receive help the day they ask for it, regardless of where they live.”

David McCartney, chairman of the Scottish Government working group on residential rehabilitation, said the review should “encourage us to ensure that residential rehabilitation is an accessible part of a comprehensive and joined-up recovery-oriented system of care”.