Drug Deaths Taskforce
Drug Deaths Taskforce Meeting 1 – Chair’s Blog
Tuesday 19th September was the first meeting of the Drug Deaths Taskforce. It was a nerve racking day making sure we were prepared with background papers, presentations and films as well as meeting some members for the first time, not to mention the press interest and photos afterwards!
After introductions, I presented the plans for living/lived experience involvement and community engagement – see the slide below:
This first meeting was about bringing everyone on the Drug Deaths Taskforce up to speed, getting to know everyone around the table and the organisations and the professional groups they represent. We did this by inviting some expert presentations on opiate replacement treatment, the naloxone programme, drug death data and how this is collated, what does ‘a public health emergency’ actually mean? and the drug and alcohol strategy (Rights, Respect and Recovery). These can be viewed online here. Thank you to presenters.
We concluded the morning session with a film in which two people who are currently on opiate replacement treatment described their situation and expressed their personal experiences and the frustrations they have had accessing appropriate care and treatment. Not all lived/living experience can be represented in person so this film was our way of grounding Taskforce members and reminding them of people at the most vulnerable end of drug use. Thank you to all involved in pulling that film together, it was very well received with members noting the lack of involvement of people in decision making about their own care, not addressing the underlying issues that lead to drug use but also the importance of positive therapeutic relationship.
In the afternoon we had a good discussion of the key areas we need to focus on moving forward (from existing evidence) and how to frame these. Members of the group were tasked with forming sub-groups to look in detail at these and report back at the next meeting. We acknowledged in discussions that some of the changes needed are at a system level that will take time to show benefits. I am acutely aware we do not have time. Immediate actions were discussed and there was agreement to action a concerted drive to maximise naloxone distribution and an agreement to develop an anti-stigma strategy.
Work on all of the above will continue between meetings.
Chair of the Drug Death Taskforce