THE shockingly high rate of drug deaths in Glasgow should be declared a “public health emergency” to allow urgent action according to a group of experts.

Last month it was revealed that deaths in the city had increased by more than 40% to 280 fatalities in 2018 and to more than 1100 across Scotland.

Writing in the medical journal the Lancet a group of public health experts have called on the UK government to react.


Rory Stewart visits drug and homeless service in Glasgow

They have said that the death toll merits emergency status and Glasgow should be allowed to pilot a supervised drug consumption room.

The experts include Dr Saket Priyadarshi senior medical officer of Glasgow’s drug recovery services and Susanne Millar, chair, and Carole Hunter, lead pharmacist of the city’s alcohol and drug partnership.

The list of 15 experts includes the Royal Society for Public Health, the National Aids Trust, and police in England and Wales.

The letter states: “Every person at risk of a drug related death should be valued as highly as someone at risk from cancer, someone who has had a road traffic accident or from any other threat.”


Drugs: How many more must die?

They said the UK government must work with devolved authorities to work together to reduce the deaths, adding the Scottish Government should be allowed to apply health-based approaches like a drug consumption room as proposed in Glasgow.

The letter states: “While the UK Government is opposed to such innovations, the power to act needs to shift.

“This transition of power could be done wither through amendments to the 1971 Drugs act or by declaring a health emergency in Scotland and granting Holyrood emergency powers to pilot these measures first.”

They argue if lives are then saved then other part sof the UK would want to follow.

They highlight British Columbia in Canada when drug deaths hit 11 per 100,000 population, lower than the Glasgow level, it was declared an emergency.

The authorities attribute increased access to opioid substitutes and a supervised consumption facility with a reduction in fatal overdoses.

Drug consumption rooms have increased in Canada from two in 2016 to more than 50 this year.