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Tory right-to-recovery drug rehabilitation Bill has 77% support in consultation

A consultation on the Bill closed in January (Paul Faith/PA)
A consultation on the Bill closed in January (Paul Faith/PA)

A Scottish Tory Bill aimed at enshrining the right to access certain drug rehabilitation services has received support from 77% of respondents to a consultation.

The Right to Recovery (Scotland) Bill would see the right enshrined in Scots law, seek to prevent people from being refused treatment, establish a new funding mechanism for frontline services and introduce new national standards and guidance to increase accessibility.

A consultation run by Tory leader Douglas Ross, who initially proposed the Bill, closed in January, finding that 150 of the 195 responses were either fully or partially supportive of the Bill.

Douglas Ross in Holyrood
The Scottish Tory leader proposed the Bill (Jane Barlow/PA)

In their response, homeless charity Cyrenians said: “We find it very surprising that there is not already an established legal right to addiction recovery – similar to the legal rights to housing.

“Options for addiction treatments can vary geographically, so the Act should ensure that all recovery options are available to all citizens.”

Scottish Tory health spokesman Dr Sandesh Gulhane said the drug deaths crisis – which claimed the lives of 1,339 Scots in 2020 – should “shame the nation”.

“We believe Right to Recovery is a crucial part of the solution and I’m delighted to see the extremely positive response to it from stakeholders, who recognise it’s a common-sense Bill drawn up in consultation with experts in the addiction field,” he added.

“At the moment, too many people with addiction problems are unable to access the help they need, but this legislation would enshrine in law their right to receive potentially life-saving treatment, including residential rehab.

“I urge the Government to finally get on board with this legislation so we can start fixing Scotland’s broken treatment system.”

Annemarie Ward, the chief executive officer of Faces and Voices of Recovery (Favor) UK, helped draft the Bill and said it would bring “much-needed further investment” for drug services.

“This Bill brings Scotland’s treatment system and services kicking and screaming out of their inertia and into the light of what’s possible when we listen to those with lived experience who have found recovery,” she added.

“We are very proud to have taken it to this stage and we hope all of Scotland’s MSPs will help our country heal by making sure it gets over the line.”

Turning Point Scotland, a leading charity that supports people struggling with addiction, said in a submission to the consultation they did not believe the Bill presented the “only, nor the best way” to save lives.

“Ultimately, while we can support much of what the proposed Bill aims to achieve, we do not believe that it is the most effective way to reduce deaths, to prevent harm or to encourage recovery,” said Faye Keogh, the policy and business development officer at the charity.

“Establishing a legal right would help draw attention to a neglected issue, but we already have the attention.

“Even if this Act was passed and we established the legal right to treatment, work would then still need to be done to make that right a reality.

“We believe that that work is already under way, and that our time and effort would be more productively spent on ensuring that work included all that it needs to.”

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