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Dundee residents ‘left to die’ as city leaders wait months to respond to crisis report

Michael Marra

Dundee residents have been left to die while city leaders fail to respond to a scathing drug deaths report, a city MSP has warned.

Michael Marra said the lack of response from organisations charged with tackling the emergency “is both telling and very concerning”.

The Dundee Drugs Commission was formed in 2018 to “consider the nature, extent and impact of drug use and to look at drug-related deaths”.

It published a two-year update in March that found city leaders had not fully appreciated the scale of the challenge.

The report found drastic improvements to key services will be essential if fatalities are to be brought down in the coming years.

But three months on, Mr Marra said there has been “no response from the partner agencies of whom this report is particularly critical”.

A spokesperson confirmed the partnership – which is made up of the city council, local health board, police and other organisations – is “currently formulating its full response” to the report.

Failings not addressed

Speaking during a drug deaths debate at Holyrood, Mr Marra said: “No meeting with the commissioners. No report to the city council. No discussion at the health board.

“The report is clear that the critical bodies in the city have failed to grasp the scale of the challenge. Key recommendations from the first report two years ago have simply not been addressed.

“Unsurprisingly, the rebrand of the Integrated Substance Misuse Service – itself a rebrand of a rebrand – to Dundee Drugs and Alcohol Services has done nothing to change the culture or perception of a service that is failing clients, families and the city.”

Speaking later, Mr Marra told The Courier: “The way this vital report is being treated by the key players in Dundee is both telling and very concerning.

“A key conclusion of the Commission is that city leaders have failed to grasp the scale of the challenge and a lack of urgent response only serves to reinforce that.

“We are three months on since publication and there is no sign of the urgency needed.

“We need to see full acceptance of the original and the revised recommendations and we need to see a plan to deliver them.

“Dundonians continue to die as a result of delays to these reforms.”

What did the Dundee Partnership say?

A Dundee Partnership spokesperson said: “The partners issued an initial response to the Dundee Drugs Commission’s two year review on the day of its publication in late March, which can be found here.

“Organisations reaffirmed their commitment to cut the city’s drugs death toll, noting progress on a number of issues as well as accepting that many challenges remain.

“A Statement of Intent from leaders of the Dundee Partnership on these issues is to be issued soon.

“Meanwhile, the partnership is currently formulating its full response to the Commission’s review report.

“This will be issued publicly and will outline future steps to be taken.”

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