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ll responses should be received no later than 11.59pm on Wednesday 12 January 2022. Please us know in advance of this deadline if you anticipate difficulties meeting it. Responses received after the consultation has closed will not be included in any summary of responses that is prepared
You can respond to the bill here
Here are the question it asks & some answers for your to consider when responding.
Right to Recovery Bill – Model Consultation Response
The Right to Recovery consultation relates to a draft proposal which has been lodged by Leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Douglas Ross MSP MP, as the first stage in the process of introducing a Member’s Bill in the Scottish Parliament.
At the end of the consultation period, responses to the consultation will be considered and published. Douglas Ross will then lodge a final proposal in the Parliament. If that final proposal secures the support of at least 18 other MSPs from at least half of the political parties or groups represented in the Parliamentary Bureau, and the Scottish Government does not indicate that it intends to legislate in the area in question, it will then be possible to introduce a Member’s Bill.
A number of months may be required to finalise the Bill and related documentation. Once introduced, a Member’s Bill follows a three-stage scrutiny process, during which it may be amended or rejected outright. If it is passed at the end of the process, it becomes an Act. At this stage, therefore, there is no Bill, only a draft proposal for the legislation.
The principle which underlies the proposed Member’s Bill is to ensure that people who are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol, are legally entitled to the necessary addiction treatment they require. In order to achieve this, the proposed Bill will enshrine the right to necessary addiction treatment in law. It would place an obligation on NHS Health Boards, Scottish Ministers and others as appropriate, to provide treatment and set up reporting arrangements so that the quality and access of treatment provided can be monitored and reported to the Scottish Parliament.
It is proposed that the Bill would deliver the aims of the proposal by:
- Establishing a right to recovery treatment;
- Adding strength to that right/enforceability by placing duties on NHS Health Boards, Scottish Ministers and others;
- Allowing those with addiction issues to choose their preferred treatment option (unless deemed harmful by a medical professional);
- Ensuring that access to treatment is not denied unless there is a strong medical case;
- Establishing national standards and guidance;
- Establishing a complaints procedure for those with addiction issues/their families to pursue if the right it being denied – if the current procedures are not deemed not suitable for this proposal;
- Establishing a national funding scheme;
- Requiring the relevant bodies responsible to report progress to the Scottish Parliament.
The purpose of this consultation is to provide a range of views on the subject matter of the proposed Bill, highlighting potential problems, suggesting improvements, and generally refining and developing the policy.
Below is a template response to submit in support of the Right to Recovery proposal. Your positive response will help to put pressure on the Scottish Government to act to tackle Scotland’s drug crisis and deliver funding for recovery services for anyone who needs them.
You can submit consultation responses here before 12 January 2022:
As an organisation/ individual that is deeply concerned about record drug deaths in Scotland, I strongly support the Right to Addiction Recovery Bill proposal. The proposed legislation could have a transformative impact in ensuring that funding will always be in place to ensure that anyone can access the treatment they require to get better.
1- Which of the following best expresses your view of the proposed Bill? [Fully supportive] Please explain the reasons for your response.
I have witnessed first-hand the pain and tragedy of drug addiction and drugs deaths in Scotland, and I believe more needs to be done to tackle the crisis.
I am deeply concerned about the drug deaths rate in Scotland. It is shameful that we hold have Europe’s worst record on the issue – in a wealthy country like ours, there is no excuse for the Government’s failure to get a grip on this issue. We can and must do more to tackle helppeople with drug addiction in Scotland.
Drugs deaths are not a problem that is unique to Scotland – but our record on this is worse than all our closest neighbours. The Government’s approach is simply not going far enough to tackle drug addiction and deaths on our streets.
The drug death rate in Scotland is unforgivably high – and rising sharply. The number of drug-related deaths in Scotland in 2020 was the highest for any year since recording began in 1996; 5% higher than in 2019; and almost triple the number recorded in 2007. Our per-capita drugs death rate is now three-and-a-half times more per head of population, than for the UK as a whole. The proposed Bill will give us the power to tackle this crisis once and for all, and get on top of our spiralling drugs death rate.
According to Annemarie Ward, CEO of drugs charity, Faces and Voices of Recovery UK, “there is no desire for radical change, or even for accountability, in Scotland’s broken treatment system”. The Right to Recovery bill will drive change in Scotland’s approach to addiction treatment and provide the accountability the system so desperately needs.
Waiting times for residential rehabilitation are currently notoriously long, with vulnerable patients waiting up to a year for treatment. The Scottish Government only funded 13 % of residential rehab places in Scotland in 2019-20 – and, despite rising drugs deaths and hospitalisations, Scottish rehabilitation facilities have reported declines in admissions. One facility, Castle craig, received 257 NHS admissions in 2002, and just 5 in 2019. More and more addiction patients are simply not getting the treatment they need, the Right to Recovery Bill will reverse this trend.
Instead of making things better, the Scottish Government’s current ‘Drug Death Task Force’ has watched Scotland ‘go backwards’ with efforts on tackling drugs deaths – according to Faces and Voices of Recovery UK. We cannot keep repeating the same mistakes that have led us to the current state of affairs. The Right to Recovery Bill would deliver real change and finally get this crisis under control.
2- Do you think legislation is required, or are there are other ways in which the proposed Bill’s aims could be achieved more effectively?
Yes – Government targets and good intentions have proved completely inadequate to combatting this crisis. The right to recovery must now be enshrined in law, in order to ensure that everyone who needs treatment for drug addiction is able to access it.
Right now, people suffering from addiction are simply not getting the treatment they need. We cannot afford any more missed targets or ineffective Government programmes. Legislation is necessary to give people suffering from addiction a positive right to access treatment, and hold our public services and Government legally responsible for delivering it.
Scotland’s drug treatment system has been for many, extremely complicated, inaccessible and difficult to navigate – a legal obligation to ensure access to treatment is now the only thing that will cut through our broken system and actually deliver care for addiction patients.
This is a life and death issue, and therefore should be taken as seriously as any other life and death issue in our society. By enshrining the right to treatment in law, the Government will show that they are serious about tackling drugs deaths, and finally treat this problem with the rigour it deserves.
Scotland’s treatment system has suffered under years of failed initiatives and unsuccessful reforms. Putting the right to treatment in law is the only way to ensure a successful and consistent approach to drug treatment for years to come.
A legal obligation at all levels of the treatment system is the only way to ensure that the right to recovery is upheld, otherwise some particularly vulnerable patients may end up falling through the cracks.
3- How do you think the right to treatment established in the Bill would be most effectively implemented and enforced?
There should be a legal responsibility on everyone involved in the delivery of care to provide treatment for addiction. This obligation must be monitored by the Scottish Government and legally enforceable. In this way, we can make sure Scotland’s drugs treatment system is centred around the care of patients, at every level.
The Scottish Government has a duty of care to those suffering from addiction. The Government must ensure that treatment is available, by working with collaboratively with everyone involved in the delivery of care. This will include GPs, frontline NHS staff, social care workers, rehabilitation facilities, local government and third sector organisations, and anyone else involved in caring for drug addicted patients.
The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh believes that Scotland can only tackle the drugs deaths crisis through a “whole systems approach”, involving all relevant stakeholders and services. This means delivering a system that works across all levels of our health and social care system, and is accessible to vulnerable people.
The Scottish Government have shown that it is possible to quickly and effectively enforce public health measures throughout the Covid pandemic. Scotland’s drug deaths problem is also a major health crisis and should be treated with the same sense of urgency and enforced via similar means.
Parties involved with care at every level should be educated as to what the right to treatment requires from them and encouraged to carry out these responsibilities. However, where the responsibilities of ensuring patients’ right to treatment are not carried out, there must be a system to legally enforce these obligations.
4- Which of the following best expresses your view of creating a specific complaints procedure, in addition to the existing NHS complaints procedure? [Fully Supportive] Please explain the reasons for your response.
It is crucial for there to be a specialised complaints procedure for those with addictions and their families to purse if their right to recovery is being denied. This will provide accountability to the drugs treatment system and prevent patients from falling through the cracks.
The current NHS complaints procedure is not suitable for drug treatment issues. There needs to be a much more specialised process that takes into account the unique needs of those suffering from addiction, and their families.
Throughout the Covid pandemic, there have been examples of health boards delaying or suspending complaints procedures due to the increased pressures caused by Covid-19. We cannot afford to allow other pressures on the health service to jeopardise drug addiction patients’ right to treatment. Therefore, a specialised, dedicated system must be set up to deal with the complaints of those who cannot access treatment.
It is essential that we are able to monitor the success of Scotland’s treatment system, under Right to Recovery legislation. To do that, we need transparent data on patients’ experiences of the treatment system and on whether the right to treatment is being upheld. A specialised complaints process should be set up to monitor our drugs addiction treatment system, and ensure that the Government is effectively guaranteeing the right to recovery.
As well as a specific complaints procedure, there should also be a thorough and transparent assessment of general patient experience published at regular intervals. Patient feedback should be actively collected and published publicly by the Scottish Government. This will make sure the Scottish treatment system is on track, and help tailor services to the needs of those suffering from addiction.
5- How supportive are you of allowing those suffering from addiction to choose a preferred treatment option, and for them to receive that option unless deemed harmful by a medical professional? [Fully Supportive] Please explain the reasons for your response.
Addiction is a very personal matter and residential treatment may not be right for everybody. It is therefore important that those suffering from addiction have the option to choose the treatment that will be best for them. The Right to Recovery Bill should include provision for addiction patients to choose the best environment to successfully treat their addiction and get better.
Drug addiction is a complex problem that can stem from many different issues, and affect people in different ways. There should be a variety of treatment options to allow for these differences in background and needs, and give patients the best chance of overcoming their addiction.
From my personal experience of Scotland’s drug problem, I have seen how some treatments are not always suitable for certain people. Allowing patients a choice in their own care will help empower those suffering from addiction to take the path that’s right for them, and allow them to feel in control of their journey toward recovery.
A one-size-fits-all approach is not enough to tackle a drugs crisis of this scale – there needs to be a focus on tailoring treatment to the needs of the patient, and providing a holistic service that considers all elements of addiction.
No-one should be prevented from seeking treatment for addiction because their preferred treatment option is not available. Part of the Right to Recovery Bill should therefore be a commitment to providing a genuine choice of treatments for addiction patients. It is also important that treatment options do not become a postcode lottery, so there should be a focus on making different types of treatment available to all, regardless of location.
Those suffering from addiction are human beings who deserve to have a choice in their own care like anyone else. It is essential for the wellbeing and recovery of addiction patients that they feel part of their own treatment plan, and not as though treatment is being imposed upon them. This is why it is so crucial that those suffering from addiction are given a choice of their preferred treatment.
6- How supportive are you of the proposed Bill seeking to prevent treatment being refused? [Fully Supportive] Please explain the reasons for your response.
There have been cases in Scotland where recovery organisations have had to seek senior legal counsel to bring cases to court where people were denied access to drug treatment – this is expensive, time-consuming and emotionally challenging for people suffering from addiction. Where those suffering from addiction want treatment, they must be not be prevented or delayed from accessing it, unless it is deemed harmful by a medical professional. A legal provision to prevent treatment being refused would stop people having to fight for their treatment.
I have seen first-hand how emotionally traumatic it can be for those suffering from addiction to have to fight to get treatment. It should be guaranteed in law that treatment will not be refused to anyone who wants it.
Where treatment is refused, patients are effectively abandoned to struggle with a potentially fatal condition, alone. This is utterly immoral. We would not accept this with any other kind of illness, and a legal provision to prevent this is only appropriate.
For many drug addicted people, there is limited time to get them onto treatment paths, before their drug use leads to harmful or fatal health conditions. These people simply don’t have time to wait for treatment, and many will give up if it is continually refused. There should be a legal provision to prevent destructive delays in patients accessing treatment.
People who use drugs have been continually demonised by the media and wider society. Many drug users are therefore be disengaged and distrustful of Government initiatives. By refusing treatment, public health services risk permanently disenfranchising some of our society’s most vulnerable.
7- Which of the following best expresses your view of requiring the Scottish Government to establish a national funding scheme? [Fully supportive] Please explain the reasons for your response.
The Scottish Government has dedicated several million pounds of funding to tackling drug addiction over the last decade, yet this money has not produced results. A dedicated national funding scheme would ensure the transparent and effective allocation of funds directly toward guaranteeing treatment for all those suffering from addiction.
Instead of making things better, the Scottish Government’s current ‘Drug Death Task Force’ has watched Scotland ‘go backwards’ with efforts on tackling drugs deaths – according to Faces and Voices of Recovery UK. Current efforts are not working to tackle the crisis and money is being wasted. A transparent national funding scheme would allow us to make sure Government funding is being spent directly and effectively on ensuring the right to recovery.
Our per-capita drugs death rate is now three-and-a-half times more per head of population, than for the UK as a whole. Scotland should therefore have a dedicated national funding scheme to respond to our uniquely severe drugs problem.
Scotland’s entire health service is under a great deal of pressure right now – but drug addiction is a huge health issue that is not going away. A dedicated pot of funding would ensure that money is not diverted to other health services in times of pressure, and allow a high level of care to be maintained.
8- Taking into account all those likely to be affected (including public sector bodies, businesses and individuals etc), is the proposed Bill likely to lead to increases or reductions in cost. Please indicate where you would expect the impact identified to fall (including public sector bodies, businesses and individuals etc).
By placing the obligation to ensure access to addiction treatment on public services and the Government, the Right to Recovery Bill should remove all prohibitive costs to individual patients. This is a crucial aspect of the Bill, as poverty is a significant driver of addiction.
In 2019, drug use disorders were 17 times more prevalent in Scotland’s most deprived areas, compared with the least deprived, according to NHS Health Scotland. It is therefore vital that no-one is prevented from accessing treatment on the basis of wealth.
While an increase in the number of people receiving treatment for addiction seems likely to increase costs, the effective spending necessitated by the Right to Recovery Bill is preferrable to the ineffective spending we have seen from the Scottish Government, so far. The Scottish Government anticipates £50 million annual spending on tackling drugs in each of the next five years, and the expected cost of the Right to Recovery bill should fall well within this estimate.
Some costs to the Government may also be offset if the burden of work on the police and criminal justice system is reduced.
9- What overall impact is the proposed Bill likely to have on equality, taking account of the following protected characteristics (under the Equality Act 2010): age, disability, gender re-assignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation? [Positive]
Drug addiction disproportionately affects the poorest and most vulnerable in society. By helping to tackle addiction in a sustainable and long-term way, the proposed Bill will help to end cycles of poverty and inequality.
By enshrining the right to treatment in law, the Bill will make sure that no-one is prevented from accessing treatment due to their personal characteristics.
In making Scotland’s drug treatment system more accessible and transparent, the Right to Recovery Bill may help increase trust in our healthcare system among protected and vulnerable groups, and encourage more people to come forward for treatment.
10- In terms of assessing the proposed Bill’s potential impact on sustainable development, you may wish to consider how it relates to the following principles: Living within environmental limits; ensuring a strong, healthy and just society; achieving a sustainable economy; promoting effective, participative systems of governance; ensuring policy is developed on the basis of strong scientific evidence. With these principles in mind, do you consider that the Bill can be delivered sustainably? [Yes] Please explain the reasons for your response.
By creating legally enforceable systems of accountability and scrutiny for Scotland’s addiction treatment system, the Right to Recovery Bill will help make sure that future initiatives are based around what has been shown to work for patients, their families and our healthcare system. In this way, we can ensure that Scotland’s approach to drug addiction is sustainable and effective for years to come.
Transparent patient feedback and reporting will also mean that those suffering from addiction play a real part in the design of the treatment systems they use, contributing to a more democratic healthcare system.
By reducing the amount of crime and the direct effects of crime caused by drug abuse, the Bill is likely to benefit wider society and reduce costs to the police and criminal justice system.
The Right to Recovery Bill has the potential to improve the outcomes and life choices available for those suffering from addiction issues, as well as of those their carers and supporters.
By increasing the number of people able to contribute productively to society, the Bill will help ensure a strong, healthy and just society, and achieve a sustainable economy.