There’s no question that ministers from the SNP made a strong effort to address the notorious drug-related fatalities in Glasgow and Scotland at large.

However, after nearly two decades in the driver’s seat — coupled with half a decade after the formal pronouncement of a public health emergency — we’re faced with the shock that the number of individuals losing their lives to drug overdoses is experiencing an upward trend. The shocking figure for 2023 stands at an astounding 1,197 suspected cases. Despite holding power for years, the seriousness of the issue was impressively downplayed by the Scottish government until 2019; a time when they felt the significant pressure mounted by campaigners and news outlets.

Any optimism that the steep death toll from drugs was beginning to decline has been all but extinguished with this latest surge. This unfortunate growth simply confirms that the current strategy the government employed isn’t delivering the expected results.

These mortality figures aren’t mere numbers, they’re human lives. From the year 2018 upwards, the nation has had to cope with a death tally exceeding a thousand every year owing to avoidable drug overdoses. This translates to a thousand shattered dreams and a thousand grieving families annually.

We’ve been proponents for the creation of secure drug consumption establishments nationwide, with the hope that these could make considerable strides in curtailing the number of lives lost. However, this represents only a part of the solution, as underlying issues such as poverty, inequality, the quality of education, and substandard housing all contribute in no small measure to this protracted drug death crisis.

It’s also worth mentioning that the austerity measures implemented by the Tories since 2010 have significantly affected our public services. Even in the present year, we observe Holyrood’s ministers effecting serious real-time cuts to municipal services in an effort to stabilize financial order and effect a council tax freeze. The bitter truth is, the devastating drug death crisis would continue unabated if local services continue to be suffocated financially.

Vetting the vets

Pet owners are known to go to great lengths to prevent their pets from harm and suffering. Hence, the popularity of premium pet insurance.

The other side of the coin implies paying exorbitant bills when our furry mates require expensive vet interventions. Currently, competition regulators raise alarms that veterinary fees are skyrocketing far beyond regular household expenditure.

They also voice several serious concerns regarding the surge in prices for certain treatments. It’s rather unusual that, at times, the cost of animal medication is largely inflated, compared to the human equivalent; enough to raise eyebrows.

Rightly so, the Competition, and Markets Authority, determined to carry out an official investigation into the industry. Among the likely countermeasures being considered is a novel price capping system for animal prescriptions and specific veterinary procedures.

This is a much-needed intervention; no family should be plunged into financial difficulty while attempting to provide the best care for their animal companions.

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