Action in response to Drugs Commission

Action in response to Drugs Commission Image

Wide-ranging actions already under way in a bid to tackle Dundee’s drug death toll have been outlined at a meeting of city partners.

As the Dundee Partnership published its response to the recent independent Drugs Commission report, members were told that early measures are already helping to identify and support vulnerable people.

Examples of new initiatives that have been undertaken since the commission’s report was published in August include rapid engagement with people who have suffered a non-fatal overdose.

This involves frontline staff meeting daily to review information from the Scottish Ambulance Service, in a bid to ensure that any vulnerable individuals identified are offered assistance more quickly.

Options for same-day prescribing – a key issue identified in the report - are also being tested to ensure that they are fully implemented in the most effective and sustainable way, as is more assertive outreach work to help people stay engaged with treatment services.

Assertive outreach is a way of organising and delivering care via a specialised team to provide intensive, highly coordinated and flexible support and treatment for clients with longer term needs living in the community.

In addition, peer support to assist people’s recovery is already becoming established.

The Dundee Partnership has now agreed in principle a plan with 12 key priorities to map the way forward for organisations to work with individuals and families affected by substance use.

Councillor John Alexander, chair of the Dundee Partnership, said: “A huge step forward has been taken for the city with the creation of the Dundee Partnership’s Action Plan.

“None of us underestimate the size of the task at hand and the reality is that we cannot solve problems of this size overnight.

“I am pleased that work is already underway to help people suffering from the scourge of drugs.

“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.

“We have to employ a fully rounded approach to these problems and need to support the children and families who all too often suffer the consequences of drugs use and death.

“None of the members of the Dundee Partnership are complacent and we are determined to turn this situation around.

“I would like to thank the hard working and dedicated members of staff from across organisations who are working every day to help people and save lives.”

Other projects that have started since the report of the commission include specialist nurses working within Children and Families services and a move to increase of non-medical prescribers within specialist services. This is intended to provide faster access to treatment and ensure a whole family approach to services.

There has been an increase in the number of community facilities that services are delivered from, with statutory and third sector organisations working together to deliver the services from these sites.

Other projects that have started since the report of the commission include nurses who work with children and families undergoing training to become non-medical prescribers. This is intended to provide faster access to treatment and ensure a whole family approach to services.

Meanwhile, recommendations from a separate report into the specific needs of women affected by substance and domestic abuse, and who could also be involved in prostitution, will be put into place. These reflect the voices of women with lived experience of these issues across the city.

Simon Little, independent chair of the Dundee Alcohol and Drug Partnership, said: “There are a lot of challenges, but I'm certain that this action plan will make a difference. In fact, things are already being done which are making a difference.

“Staff and leadership across the Partnership have recognised the urgency of this and are responding.

“Fresh initiatives are being brought forward all the time and these are feeding into this action plan.

“This action plan will evolve over time, responding to circumstances and ongoing feedback from communities, people with lived experience and staff working in the field.

“We have a lot to learn from those with lived experience, carers and those on the front line delivering services. We must listen to their criticisms, listen to their ideas for improvements, and then solve our problems together.

“Ultimately the focus has to be on the outcomes these actions bring about.”

Eric Knox, Chief Executive of Dundee Volunteer and Voluntary Action, said: “I have seen a willingness from everyone involved to radically rethink the whole system of care since the Drug Commission first met over a year ago.

“The pace of change has increased since the Commission report was published and we are beginning to see a clear way forward.

“The Third Sector has a critical role in this to play in this supporting people through their recovery journey and we are committed to doing that. We are at the start of a long journey and it's vitally important that the pace of change is maintained going forward.”

The 12 key priorities included in the Dundee Partnership Action Plan for Change and Improvement are: 

  1. Tackle the immediate risk factors for drug deaths
  2. Urgently increase the capacity and capability of specialist services to support access, quality and safety
  3. Improve retention in treatment and recovery services
  4. Implement a revised person centered, seamless, sustainable and comprehensive model of care
  5. Win the trust and confidence of all stakeholders through effective Leadership, Governance and Accountability
  6. Ensure the meaningful involvement and engagement of people who experience problems with drugs, families and carers and those that advocate for them
  7. Confront and address stigma and strengthen mutual and community support
  8. Keep children safe from substance use and its consequences
  9. Implement trauma informed approaches, targeting those at increased risk of substance use / and death
  10. Tackle the root causes of substance use
  11. Ensure gendered approaches are considered in all activities and accommodated in design and delivery of services
  12. Ensure clear and consistent communications are delivered through a partnership approach


The Dundee Drugs Commission was set up by the Partnership as a response to the increasing number of drug-related deaths in the city.

Its report, “Responding to Drug Use with Kindness, Compassion and Hope’, detailed a number of key recommendations, some of them immediate actions and others longer-term pieces of work to be delivered across a period of five years.

The Dundee Partnership is made up of representatives from key local public agencies, academic institutions and representatives of the business, voluntary and community sectors.

It pools the strengths of all partners to deliver a vision for the city which improves people’s lives. Among its key priorities is tackling the root causes of social and economic exclusion, creating a community which is healthy, safe, confident, educated and empowered.

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