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Deaths by Overdose

– in the Scottish Parliament on 13th May 2020.

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Photo of Graham Simpson Graham Simpson Conservative

In the past few days, I have seen figures for North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire that show that the monthly rate of death from suspected overdoses is currently more than twice what it was last year. That suggests that there could be a link to lockdown. Can the First Minister say what the figure is across the country? If she does not have the figure at her fingertips, perhaps she can find out.

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

I do not have that figure to hand. If we are able to give that national figure, I will provide it to Graham Simpson and make it available to all members.

Joe FitzPatrick convenes the task force on drug deaths and misuse, which met this morning, I think. Obviously, these issues are very much to the fore in those considerations, as well.

Generally, the point about overdoses has rightly been raised. We are acutely aware of the fact that what we are doing to tackle the virus is creating harm in other ways, and we have to balance that as we move forward to reduce harm overall. The mental health impact, the wider health impacts, the stress and the isolation that are caused by the virus are very much in our thinking.

When we reviewed the regulations last week, we published an analysis of the other harms, which is available for members to look at. That analysis will continue to sit alongside the work that we are doing to assess the suppression of the virus and where we will move from that. However, if there is more information on the specific point that I can provide, I will ensure that we provide it as soon as possible.