The coronavirus crisis has “set back” work to cut the growing number of drug deaths in the city, according to the independent chair of the Dundee Alcohol and Drug Partnership.
Simon Little said progress had been made on “reaching out” to high risk drug and alcohol users but the pandemic had slowed down some vital work.
He said: “Some progress has been made in addressing the overall capacity of services but the pandemic has set back our work on redesigning the whole system of care.
“That said, the immediate response to the pandemic has been encouraging; there has been excellent collaboration between statutory and third sector organisations and some innovative ways of working that we will want to build upon.
There were 53 drugs deaths in Dundee in 2018 – the highest number recorded. There are fears the 2019 figure will be even higher when the delayed statistics are finally published.
The Dundee Partnership – made up of representatives from key local public agencies, academic institutions and representatives of the business, voluntary and community sector – published the action plan last year following the report of the Dundee Drugs Commission.
Mr Little’s comments come ahead of an official update on the progress made on the plan during the pandemic.
Councillors will be given a progress report on Monday night.
They will told the “availability and reach” of Naloxone – which can save lives in the event of an heroin overdose – has improved across Dundee.
They will also receive an update on how frontline workers have adapted to coronavirus restrictions to ensure vital services, information and care have been maintained for vulnerable individuals and their families.
Council leader John Alexander, who is also chair of the Dundee Partnership, said: “This report shows what is still very much a work in progress and I am heartened by what has been achieved so far.
“There are no easy solutions to any of these issues. The action plan demonstrates we are striving for a full-rounded approach that also helps the children and families who often suffer from the consequences of addiction.
“I would like to restate that recovery is an important component of this action plan and I am hopeful that we will be calling Dundee a City of Recovery in the future as this action plan takes full effect.
Eric Knox, chief executive of Dundee Volunteer and Voluntary Action, said: “This has been a difficult time for individuals struggling with substance issues.
“Quite rightly the partnership has focused on what is the needed on the ground at the moment to ensure people are as safe as they can be. Even so there has still be innovation on the way we are delivering services.”