A RECORD number of drug related deaths has been recorded in Ayrshire and Arran - with a 60 per cent increase in the last 10 years.

Figures from NHS Ayrshire and Arran this week revealed 61 deaths last year due to this – up from 36 in 2007.

Overall, Scotland has the highest number of drug overdose related deaths of any nation in Europe.

Jamie Greene, MSP for West Scotland, said he was deeply concerned by these figures and called for the Scottish Government to recognise that this is a growing problem and that immediate action is required.

The MSP said: “I’m sure many would agree that these figures are cause for concern. “We should be seeing drug-related deaths go down, not up.

“This doesn’t even stem from ignorance. The SNP are well aware of the best practises in the field. After the 2016 election, the SNP told us that tackling Scotland’s drug problem would be a big priority for them.

“Then, despite consulting the Futures Forum who told the Scottish Government that the current, clinical approach fails patients and that a system based on counselling, therapy and rehabilitation is required instead.

“Instead of taking this advice, the Scottish Government has put its fingers in its ears and allowed the problem to become so much worse.

“I hope that Nicola Sturgeon and Jeanne Freeman find these figures as alarming as I do, and take this as an opportunity to take control over this situation. It’s clear that, right now, people are not getting the help they need.”