The former head of an organisation at the heart of tackling Dundee’s drug problem has revealed members often did not bother to attend meetings in the two years he was in charge.
Drew Walker, who chaired the Dundee Alcohol and Drug Partnership (ADP) until stepping down this summer, said he “couldn’t understand” why some did not prioritise the organisation.
Mr Walker was giving evidence at the Dundee Drug Commission, set up to tackle the city’s rising number of drug deaths, now the highest in Europe.
He said some bodies were failing to send a senior representative — or even anyone at all — to ADP meetings.
Commission member and SNP councillor Ken Lynn, who is also on the board of NHS Tayside, said he was “astounded and angry” with the news.
He said: “One of the main tasks of the ADP is to prevent people from dying.
“We’re talking about lives being lost, not filling in pot holes. That will be changing.
“I want to know who wasn’t there. We need to make sure it’s not happening on an ongoing basis. I think it’s incredible and really shocking.
“How much more important can an issue be?”
Mr Walker, who is director of public health at NHS Tayside, spoke of his disappointment over the lack of representation and said: “I don’t know why some have seen the importance of the ADP but some didn’t.
“Participation should have been pretty close to 100%. It wasn’t for want of trying but I can’t force people to come.
“Unfortunately the level of commitment was not mirrored across the patch. I’m sure people had a good reason for not being there but I just didn’t know what that was.
“It’s a hugely important issue. I prioritised it and so did a lot of other people.”
Mr Walker stepped down from chair of the ADP citing “competing work priorities.”
On the ADP’s future, he said the organisation is going through a “transformational change” and that the role of chair is a “huge job.”
He said: “It was ideal timing to step down.
“It needs a chair to give it the time it needs and make it accountable. I am not able to give it that.”
It is believed an independent chair of the ADP was set to be one of the first recommendations of the commission.
The latest meeting of the commission, which took place at the DCA, also heard evidence which suggested other areas in Scotland such as Edinburgh are quicker to prescribe methadone than Dundee, where it can take weeks or even months.
Mr Walker agreed that same-day prescriptions could be a key recommendation from the commission in tackling drug deaths.
Ann Hamilton, the independent chair of the Dundee Violence against Women Partnership also gave evidence to the commission.