An Edinburgh doctor who is widely respected for his work with the homeless has lamented the absence of GPs on the Dundee Alcohol and Drug Partnership (ADP).
John Budd said the lack of input from GPs in efforts to tackle Dundee’s drugs death crisis was “mad” and the omission was hampering moves to develop joined up action to support people.
Dr Budd, a GP at Edinburgh Access Practice (EAP), which provides services for homeless patients, was giving evidence at the final hearing of the Dundee Drugs Commission, set up to tackle the city’s rising death rate.
The ADP combines a number of key organisations working in the field and is at the centre of the city’s effort to minimise the harm caused by substance misuse.
Dr Budd said the lack of representation from GPs on panels was a Scotland-wide problem — and one that needed to be tackled immediately.
Speaking after he gave evidence, he said: “It makes it really difficult to develop joined up services if the main body of the workforce is not represented.
“Generally it means they aren’t in the mix when it comes to developing services.
“There are none on the ADP here. That says it all really. There are no GPs at the level to develop policy. How mad is that?”
He said he was not surprised by the situation in Dundee and the Edinburgh ADP had only recently introduced a GP.
“It’s something that has to change in Scotland,” he added.
The commission’s final session also heard from GP Roy Robertson, professor of addiction medicine at Edinburgh University, and specialist addiction GP Joe Tay.
The doctors all argued that the solution to tackling drugs deaths was “not complicated” and that opioid treatment should be supplemented by treatment to address deeper personal causes.
Dr Budd, who is also a board member of the Scottish Drugs Forum (SDF), added: “You need GPs on board. You have 60,000 people in Scotland that have a drug dependence.
“We need a service that has a broad reach.”
The commission, which has held a series of meetings since it was launched last year, will shortly be concluding its evidence gathering and moving towards analysing and writing up its findings.
An event, at which the findings of the commission will be presented, is being planned for late spring/early summer.