Drug users seeking addiction treatment in Dundee are not being seen quickly enough, new figures have shown.
Statistics from the Information Services Division (ISD) Scotland show waiting times for people referred for drug treatment have been below Holyrood guidelines since June last year.
Dundee was one of the poorest-performing areas in Scotland in terms of patients being seen within three weeks of referral.
The expected standard for health boards and alcohol and drug partnerships (ADPs) is for 90% of patients to be seen within three weeks.
However, in December, just 80% of people referred in the city were seen within the target time frame, compared with 77% in September and 87% in June.
Of all the ADPs in Scotland, Dundee was the fourth-worst performing in terms of referral-to-treatment times. In December, 16% of patients had still not been seen five weeks after referral.
Dundee Labour councillor Kevin Keenan said: “Any hold-up when people are keen to get on a programme is causing a risk to them, as they’re waiting longer and could be taking street drugs to feed their addiction.
“Any barrier to treatment is concerning and could result in further lives being lost.”
Jenny Marra MSP said: “Dundee’s waiting times show the real strain our drugs services are under. The waiting times in Dundee are simply not good enough.
“It is good we are going to have a discussion about how to address the issue through the Drugs Commission. We need to be open to all ideas, no matter how bold, on how to tackle drugs and bring hope to families.”
North-East region MSP Bill Bowman said: “Dundee has a long-standing issue with helping people recover from drug addiction. It isn’t alone in Scotland, but NHS Tayside will have more patients needing help in this area than other areas.”
A spokeswoman for Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership said: “Waiting times have been impacted throughout 2017 by current service capacity.
“Over the past year, the service has developed a clearer understanding of a future model of delivery. This is informing a strategic redesign of our services so that citizens and their families receive services that promote recovery and improve accessibility and outcomes.”