The Dundee Drugs Commission could be reconvened to review progress on the implementation of its recommendations.
And city partners are optimistic that funding will soon be received to test ways to integrate substance misuse and mental health services and improve 24-hour crisis care.
Dundee City Council’s policy & resources committee will consider a report on the Dundee Alcohol and Drug Partnership (ADP) – Action Plan for Change at its next meeting on Monday February 22.
The Dundee Partnership - made up of representatives from key local public agencies, academic institutions and representatives of the business, voluntary and community sector - published the action plan in 2019 following the report of the commission.
The committee will hear that although progress with implementation was impacted by coronavirus restrictions, a number of new innovative, immediate and flexible responses to emerging issues were developed. Details are given on how “some significant progress has been made despite the additional challenges” of the pandemic and lockdown.
- Work of the Non-Fatal Overdose (NFOD) Rapid Response continuing and strengthened by additional assertive outreach staff
- Establishment of the Dundee Take home Naloxone Project has been completed and naloxone is widely available in the city
- Although the progress made with the Integrated Substance Misuse Service (ISMS) Direct Access clinics had to be postponed due to lockdown restrictions, a fast appointment system has been put in place to ensure high priority cases can access treatment without delay
- Funding has been secured to progress the development of a test of change of a shared-care model including Primary Care and ISMS. Work has begun within the Lochee GP surgery
- Additional funding has been provided to the SafeZone Bus to provide out of hours support in local areas
- Independent advocacy is also being developed with additional funding from the national Drugs Death Task Force
The committee will also hear that a funding application has been made to the Corra Foundation for a project aimed at reducing the number of city deaths by developing an integrated substance use and mental health response.
This would be delivered in communities and include crisis interventions at evenings and weekends.This project would test a level of integration not yet seen in Scotland and learning will be shared across the country.
Councillors are being asked to approve the reconvening of the Dundee Drugs Commission for a three-month period from July as part of a process of amending timescales contained in the action plan.
The commission would review progress made in implementing its recommendations while also considering the impact of, and the lessons learned from, measures taken in response to the pandemic.
It would also agree any new findings emerging from the review and make additional recommendations if required, before preparing a final report for the Dundee ADP and its partners.
Council leader John Alexander, who is also chair of Dundee Partnership said: “The latest set of drug death figures painted a grim picture and we must remember that these deaths are not just statistics. These are humans who have died, leaving behind mourning families and grieving friends.
“The ADP and the partnership have achieved a significant amount since the commission delivered its report and I am pleased to see how much innovation and imagination have been applied to service delivery in the face of a global health emergency.
“But we cannot be complacent, and we must be realistic about the timescales that have been set to monitor progress.
“That is why we are setting out changes to the plan, and asking the commission to look in detail at how its recommendations have been implemented so far.
“The development of a combined mental health and substance issues crisis service will be truly groundbreaking. This committee will also consider the Tayside Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy and our approach demonstrates the strength of partnerships to bring about change.
“I would like to restate that recovery is an important component of this action plan and I am hopeful that we will be calling Dundee a City of Recovery in the future.”
Simon Little, independent chair of the ADP, said: “Although the Covid pandemic has held progress back in some areas, it has also brought us closer together in others. Throughout there has been a clear focus on reaching out to and engaging those at high risk of overdose and drug death.
“If our bid to the CORRA foundation is successful we will take a major step forward in re-shaping our Whole System of Care; services will be better integrated, reach further into communities and be more responsive at times of crisis.”
Dundee draws skilled workers from a 60-minute catchment population of 640,000 and has a local population of over 140,000. The availability of a large pool of highly skilled labour is a key feature in the Dundee economy. Flexibility in the labour force is currently more prevalent in Dundee than in Scotland as a whole. All forms of labour market flexibility - part-time, temporary employment, self-employment and shift work - are widely operational within the city. Labour force stability in the city is excellent, enabling companies to plan with confidence. Labour turnover levels are less than 5% and absenteeism averages 2%.