Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has challenged Nicola Sturgeon and her ministers to “get off the fence” and back a Tory bid to change to law and introduce a “right to recovery” for those addicted to drugs and alcohol.
Ross insisted the legislation his party has put forward could be a “game-changer” in tackling Scotland’s drugs deaths problem.
And he called on SNP and Green MSPs in the Scottish Parliament to get behind his Member’s Bill, as it was confirmed that it has achieved the necessary support to be debated at Holyrood.
The proposed legislation has now won the backing of 33 MSPs – including both Monica Lennon and Jackie Baillie of Scottish Labour – guaranteeing that it will come before the Scottish Parliament.
The Right to Recovery Bill is being brought forward in a bid to ensure that those who are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol are able to access the treatment they require.
To achieve this, it will enshrine the right to necessary addiction treatment in Scots law, and would place an obligation on NHS health boards, Scottish ministers and others to provide this treatment.
Reporting arrangements would also be set up so that access to treatment and the quality of treatment can be monitored.
Final drafting of the Bill is now expected to take place over the summer, with the legislation likely to come before Holyrood for scrutiny after the summer recess.
Ross said he is “delighted” the proposals have won the support of enough MSPs to come before the Scottish Parliament.
He thanked those who have backed it already and urged SNP and Green MSPs to also do so.
Ross insisted: “I strongly believe this Bill can be a game-changer in tackling the national tragedy of drug-related fatalities in Scotland.
“We can’t continue with the status quo when we have the worst drug-death rate in Europe.
“A common-sense solution is needed to a problem that shames Scotland – and that’s what Right to Recovery is.
“It has been drafted with the help of those with lived experience of addiction, and it will tackle one of the biggest obstacles to recovery those with drug or alcohol addictions face: the scarcity of treatment available.
“It’s vital now that MSPs from all parties rally behind it so that we can get it on the statute book to make a tangible difference to vulnerable people’s lives and tackle Scotland’s shame.”
Sturgeon has previously said she is “open-minded” about the proposed legislation, but Ross appealed to her and her drugs policy minister, Angela Constance, to get behind it.
Ross said: “The drugs minister has said the Scottish Government will give Right to Recovery a fair hearing.
“Now that it’s coming before Parliament, I’d urge Nicola Sturgeon and her colleagues to get off the fence and back it so that we can make a real difference.”