Renewed call for meeting over drugs deaths
25 August 2019, 10:21 | Updated: 25 August 2019, 10:23
Scotland's public health minister has written to the Home Secretary for a third time calling for an urgent meeting to discuss the rise in drug deaths.
Joe FitzPatrick said he has written again having received no response to his previous letters to Priti Patel and her predecessor Sajid Javid.
Deaths caused by drugs in Scotland rose by more than a quarter last year to 1,187 - a higher rate than anywhere in Europe and the highest since current records began in 1996.
Mr FitzPatrick said the issue should be a priority for both governments and said that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had raised the issue with Boris Johnson last month.
In a letter dated August 23, he wrote: "You will be aware that our First Minister also highlighted this growing problem when she met the Prime Minister in Edinburgh on July 29. I believe Mr Johnson indicated a willingness for his government to engage on this important issue.
"As I set out in my previous correspondence, I consider that the matter of drug deaths should be a priority for both our governments. Your predecessor Mr Javid, and your colleagues, Mr Mundell and Mr Hancock, expressed similar concerns over the matter and stated they would seek to make progress on a collaborative basis.
"I hope you can commit to attending a summit on this subject in Glasgow which we plan to host in the near future.
"Our aim is to bring together a range of expertise to help shape the next steps that can be taken to reduce harm and save lives."
It is understood the Home Office has received the letter and will respond in due course.