THE Scottish Government has committed to holding an Emergency Drug Deaths Summit in Glasgow after calls by the Evening Times for urgent action to halt the shocking rise in drug related deaths.

This week it was revealed that fatalities in Glasgow rocketed by 45% to 280 last year.

It is an unprecedented increase in avoidable deaths in the city, far higher than the 27% increase across Scotland to 1187 deaths.

As the figures were revealed, the Evening Times called on the UK Government, Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council to get together and hold a summit where they could hear first hand the problems in Glasgow from those affected and the service providers working on the front line.

As some areas like drugs laws are reserved to Westminster and some are devolved to Holyrood it requires a response from the Scottish and UK governments.

READ MORE: Drug deaths rocket in Glasgow

We contacted the two men who could be Prime Minister by the end of the month, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, Sajid Javid, UK Home Secretary and Victoria Atkins, UK Home Office drugs minister.

We issued the same call to First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, Humza Yousaf, Justice Secretary, and Joe Fitzpatrick, Public Health Minister.

And to Susan Aitken, leader of Glasgow City Council and Mhairi Hunter, vice chair of the Integrated Joint Board.

A spokeswoman for Nicola Sturgeon said she was supportive of the plan.

Joe Fitzpatrick, responded for the Scottish Government and said it would “seek to host such a summit in Glasgow”.

Susan Aitken was also in favour and a spokeswoman said the council leader would take part.

READ MORE: Evening Times calls for summit

Jeremy Hunt, who is vying with Boris Johnson to be Prime Minister said he was supportive of a summit in Glasgow but neither Boris Johnson or Sajid Javid have responded to what is an emergency in one of the biggest cities in the UK.

Mr Fitzpatrick gave the strongest commitment to our call.

He said: “It is vital this tragedy is treated as a public health issue, and we are prepared to take innovative and bold measures in order to save the lives of those most at risk.

“I welcome this call and we will seek to host such a summit in Glasgow, with close involvement of the new drug deaths taskforce I have established to ensure its work is driven by strong evidence and the voices of those with experience of using drugs, and their families, are heard.”

READ MORE: Our letter to politicians

Ms Hunter, from the council point of view said it would welcome a meeting with the UK Government attending.

She said: “Glasgow’s Alcohol & Drug Partnership (ADP) recently held a Street Drugs Summit involving almost 60 specialists from Glasgow’s Health & Social Care Partnership, Police Scotland, the Scottish Government, the Third Sector and people with lived experience. The ADP has been tasked with reviewing the findings from the summit and creating an action plan.

“However, we would absolutely welcome the opportunity to participate in a summit involving both the Scottish and Westminster governments where we can have an open and honest discussion in which no potential solution to this crisis is off the table.”

Mr Hunt responded as the Tory leadership contest enters its final days.

He said: “I support the idea of an emergency summit in Glasgow although I continue to believe that we need Scotland and UK wide solutions to this growing problem that affects communities across the country. 

“I have followed closely the policies put forward by my Scottish Conservative colleague and shadow health spokesman Miles Briggs, and I believe these are worth exploring further.”

The UK Tories were urged to get behind the idea by Glasgow Conservative MSP Adam Tomkins.

Mr Tomkins said: “I would support this and would happily convene such a summit whoever the next PM is. What about it Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt?

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“My own view is that making it easier for people to take heroin is not the answer and that we need a massive re-investment in rehab and abstinence-based programmes. But none of us has a monopoly of wisdom and no politician should be afraid of working with opponents on this.”

And Labour politicians in Glasgow also enthusiastically backed the call.

Pauline McNeill MSP, said: “This does need to be treated as an emergency with 200 deaths in Glasgow alone and1000 across Scotland. We need to analyse how we got here and act with urgency. 

“A summit to kick start a response that can begin to work out how to save lives is the least we can do.”

Anas Sarwar MSP said: “I’m in! I will work with anyone – regardless of party, yes/no, leave/remain – to challenge our drugs death emergency. 

“This will require everyone to accept that more of the same won’t work, that we must have an open mind and consider radical reform.”