Sturgeon grilled over Scotland’s drug death figures
Joe FitzPatrick has been urged to resign from his position with the Labour Party claiming he has lost the confidence of the people on the front line of drug recovery. This comes after figures released this were revealed drug deaths rose by 1,264 in 2019.
This is the highest number ever recorded and the worst rate in the UK.
Monica Lennon, Scottish Labour’s health spokeswoman, said: “Under Joe FitzPatrick’s watch, Scotland’s drug deaths crisis is becoming more and more tragic by the day.
“It’s clear that the Public Health Minister does not carry the confidence of the recovery community and those who are desperately fighting for access to treatment and rehab services. Regardless of what MSPs think of Joe as a person, that’s what matters most.
“When leading recovery activist Darren McGarvey is saying the Minister ‘is incapable of leading us anywhere but the mortuary’ it should be obvious that it’s time to go.”
Joe FitzPatrick urged to resign as health minister
Scotland’s drug deaths highest in UK
Ms Lennon continued: “Scottish Labour has lodged a motion of no confidence in Joe FitzPatrick because the Parliament must take responsibility and send a signal that the victims of Scotland’s drug deaths epidemic do matter.
“We owe it to those who have died, their families and the thousands of drug users who are fighting to stay alive today to put someone competent in charge.
“The First Minister has said sorry and promised to be more hands on in the New Year.
“If she’s serious about saving lives in 2021, she must have a new Minister by her side.”
READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon SHAME over Scotland drug users ‘let down by society’
Monica Lennon, Scottish Labour’s spokesperson
The vote of no confidence is a joint call from Scottish Labour and the Liberal Democrats.
Alex Cole-Hamilton, the spokesperson for the Scottish Liberal Democrat, said: “Joe FitzPatrick is a likeable public figure but has shown repeatedly that he’s just not up to the job.
“He has publicly floundered when questioned about the vaccine and the devastating drug death statistics.
“He simply does not command the confidence of our party and very likely the parliament.”
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Ms Lennon officially tabled the motion at the Scottish Parliament, which requires 25 signatures to get over the line.
The motion read: “That the Scottish Parliament has no confidence in the Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing in light of his inadequate response to tackling drug related deaths.”
This call comes as the Scottish First Minister defended the minister and resisted called for him to quit.
She pledged to work with Mr FitzPatrick and said: “Hopefully, we can build consensus on the steps that have to be taken to make sure that we do resolve this and sort what is an unacceptable situation.”
Nicola Sturgeon shamed over drug death figure
Drug deaths in Scotland are now six years up in a row and are now 3.5 times that of the UK as a whole.
Deaths from etizolam – ‘street Valium’ – soared by 37 percent whereas cocaine deaths are up by 34 percent.
Heroin deaths are up by 20 percent.
Numbers have risen from 455 in 2007, the same year the SNP came to power.
Alex Cole-Hamilton from Scottish Liberal Democrats
Responding to the worrying figures, Ms Lennon said: “Under the SNP, real terms funding cuts have hit drug and alcohol services hard and have undoubtedly contributed to Scotland’s increasing drug deaths.
“Meanwhile, the Tories have ignored the evidence on Drug Consumption Rooms and cross-party appeals from MPs.
“Safe consumption facilities and increased access to residential rehabilitation area vital and could happen today.
“The Scottish Government doesn’t need to wait.
“We need far more funding, first and foremost, and to get people into treatment quickly.”