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AUDIT Scotland 10 years on: explaining how funding decisions link to increased risk for drug related deaths among the poor

Iain McPhee (School of Education and Social Sciences, University of the West of Scotland, Paisley, UK)
Barry Sheridan (School of Education and Social Sciences, University of the West of Scotland, Paisley, UK)

Drugs and Alcohol Today

ISSN: 1745-9265

Article publication date: 24 September 2020

Abstract

Purpose

In response to Scottish Government assertions that an ageing cohort explained increases in drug-related death (DRD), the previous research by the authors established that socio-economic inequalities were additional risk factors explaining the significant increases in DRD in Scotland. This paper aims to subject the drug policy narratives provided by Scottish Government in relation to the governance of drug and alcohol services to critical scrutiny and reveal the social consequences of the funding formula used to direct funding to services via NHS Scotland Boards, and Alcohol and Drug Partnerships (ADP).

Design/methodology/approach

The paper provides a narrative review in the context of the AUDIT Scotland reports “Drug and Alcohol Services in Scotland” from 2009 and follow-up report published in 2019. The authors refer to the recommendations made in the 2009 report on effectiveness of drug and alcohol services and subject Scottish Government funding processes, and governance of drug and alcohol services to critical scrutiny.

Findings

This analysis provides robust evidence that Scottish Government funding processes and governance of drug and alcohol services increased risk to vulnerable drug users and document evidence that link these risk factors to increased DRD.

Research limitations/implications

The authors have focused on Scottish drug policy and drug services funding. Alcohol services funding is not subject to critical analysis due to limitations of time and resources.

Practical implications

This case study investigates AUDIT Scotland’s recommendations in 2009 to Scottish Government to provide researchers, government policy advisors and media with robust critical analysis that links drug policy decisions to increased DRD.

Social implications

Drug policy governance by the Scottish Government and NHS Scotland since 2009 have disproportionately affected communities of interest and communities of place already experiencing stark inequalities. These budget decisions have resulted in widening inequalities, and increased DRD within communities in Scotland. The authors conclude that in diverging politically and ideologically from Public Health England, and the Westminster Parliament, Scottish Government drug policy and financial governance of drugs services contributes to increased risk factors explaining DRD within deprived communities.

Originality/value

The 2009 AUDIT Scotland recommendations to Scottish Government subject their governance of drug services to critical scrutiny. This analysis provides a counterpoint to the explanations that rising DRD are unconnected to drug policy and drug services governance.

Keywords

Citation

McPhee, I. and Sheridan, B. (2020), "AUDIT Scotland 10 years on: explaining how funding decisions link to increased risk for drug related deaths among the poor", Drugs and Alcohol Today, Vol. 20 No. 4, pp. 313-322. https://doi.org/10.1108/DAT-05-2020-0024

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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