New Project To Tackle City Drug Deaths Praised


24th June 2021

Work has begun on a pioneering new project in Dundee to strengthen city efforts to tackle drugs deaths and the mental health problems associated with substance use.

Progress on the project is being welcomed by Scottish Government drugs policy minister Angela Constance and chair of the national Drug Deaths Taskforce Catriona Matheson.

Funding of £450,000 has been awarded by the Drug Deaths Taskforce to develop an integrated substance use and mental health response which will be delivered within communities, and will 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. 

It will strengthen collaborative work between children and adult services, improvements in support for vulnerable women and redesign public protection screening arrangements. Each stage will include consultation with individuals and families.

Funded for two years, it will complement ongoing separate initiatives across Dundee to provide mental health assistance to people. These include the provision of a dedicated mental health emergency vehicle, as well as development of a Community Wellbeing Hub, which will be “always open”, operating 24/7 and led by voluntary sector partners.

Development of the new project followed the Dundee Drugs Commission and the Independent Inquiry into Mental Health services in Tayside, which both outlined the need for an integrated mental health and substance use response.

Under the Dundee Alcohol and Drug Partnership (ADP) Action Plan for Change, the new initiative forms part of a collective response to the city’s drugs death situation.

The Dundee Drugs Commission will reconvene this summer to review implementation of its recommendation. Meanwhile, a statement of intent from city leaders underlining their commitment to tackle drugs deaths has been sent to front line workers.

The Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership (DHSCP) were the key sponsors of the bid for funding.                                                                          

Councillor Ken Lynn, chair of the DHSCP’s Integration Joint Board said: “Work beginning on this new initiative illustrates how determined we are to intervene and make a real difference to people’s lives.

“The situation in Dundee is unprecedented and demands the strongest response possible. Our innovative work to provide a joint substance use and mental health approach will be Scotland-leading and I hope will integrate services in a vastly improved way for the people who really need them.

“Everyone involved in this effort from across the wider Dundee Partnership is absolutely determined to turn this terrible situation around.

“However, we are under no illusions about the scale of the task and the commitment it will take to heal decades of tragedy.

“We are committed to do this properly. It is members of our communities and their families and friends who are suffering and they deserve a better future.”

Drugs Policy Minister Angela Constance said: “I welcome this new project which is receiving £450,000 from the Scottish Government through the Drug Deaths Taskforce Innovation Fund. We know that only around half of those most at risk from death are currently accessing treatment and I am determined, as part of our national mission on drug deaths, to increase that number and ultimately save lives.

“We believe this initiative will encourage more people to come forward for help as it offers a more person-centered and integrated approach to treatment, including mental health services where appropriate. Importantly, support will also be available for the families of those with problematic drug use.

“I would like to thank the taskforce and all the partners involved in the Dundee area that have worked tirelessly on redesigning services in the area.

“Over the next five years the Scottish Government will spend an additional £250 million on addressing the drug deaths crisis and I am determined that every penny of that will make a difference to all those affected by drug use in Scotland.

Welcoming this new large-scale service redesign project in Dundee, Catriona Matheson, Chair of the Drug Deaths Taskforce said; “I am delighted that this Drug Deaths Taskforce project is underway. Both the Dundee Drugs Commission and Independent Inquiry into Mental Health in the area outlined the need for such a service in response to the increasing number of drug-related deaths in the city. This large-scale service redesign project will ultimately result in integrated services and community-based hubs in the Dundee area which will improve the accessibility and appropriateness of services. People in Dundee will be able to access and benefit from effective, integrated person-centred support.

“We know that many of those at high risk of a drug related death have multiple complex needs including mental health problems and poor physical health that makes them more vulnerable. Improving the partnership working of key agencies is a top priority for the Taskforce. This work will contribute to the growing evidence of what can best address Scotland’s unique challenge, while supporting the principle of evidence into action. Learning from this project will inform service delivery models across the country.

“I am particularly pleased that families in Dundee, affected by substance use, will have easier access to services and that a strong gendered-approach will also help to ensure women, including those involved in prostitution and affected by substance use, receive the support they need. The DDTF has worked closely with Dundee City ADP and I want to thank everyone involved in developing this new approach.”

Simon Little, independent chair of the ADP, said: “'These initiatives are important steps in re-designing and improving services so that they are more responsive to individual needs, including at times of crisis. Developing 'shared care' across substance use, mental health and primary care services will also strengthen the resilience of those services and promote a more comprehensive city-wide approach.”

Dundee City Council

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%.

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