Work to embed the MAT standards by local services and alcohol and drug partnerships is on-going. It is a crucial and significant undertaking. The Minister for Drugs Policy committed to providing updates to Parliament on the progress of the MAT standards every six months and will provide a full update and report to Parliament next month. That will follow the evaluation of local progress from each health and social care partnership area.
Later on, in the summer, a subsequent report will provide further detail of the work that is being undertaken in each area. That work is being supported with annual funding of £10 million over the next four years.
In March 2021, the drugs minister pledged that the MAT standards would be fully embedded across the country by April 2022. In reality, it is increasingly clear that the target is not going to be met, given the wholly inadequate funding of drug treatment services, health and social care services and the workforce over the past 15 years. That failure is leading to lives continuing to be needlessly lost.
This is supposed to be a national mission, but instead of delivering the standards that were promised, more families are going to have to suffer while they continue to wait for action. What does the First Minister have to say to those families?
I recognise the importance of the MAT standards and the Government is doing what it committed to do. It is important that the standards are embedded in every local area and that they are then properly implemented. That is the work that is under way and the minister has committed to report to Parliament regularly on that.
The standards apply to all services and organisations that are responsible for the delivery of care. Access to treatment is a key part of supporting those who use drugs and, of course, it is a key part of our overall strategy to reduce deaths from drugs. The minister will report next month, but this work continues to be of the highest priority for the Government as a whole.