The latest figures from the National Records of Scotland which show that 27 people in Dumfries and Galloway died in 2016 as a direct result of alcohol, a ‘serious concern’ according to South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth.

The new figures have shown a slight increase on the previous year, highlighting the dangerous impact of too much alcohol. The figures exclude suicide and accidental deaths, even although some may also have been alcohol related.

The number of alcohol related deaths in Scotland rose to 1,265  an increase of 10% on the previous year.

The figures comes as charities such as BMA Scotland have called for more effort to tackle the problem of alcohol missue.

Colin Smyth MSP believes the figures show the folly of recent cuts in funding for the work of the Alcohol and Drugs Partnerships across Scotland, including Dumfries and Galloway. In 2016-17, the allocation from the Scottish Government to NHS boards for alcohol and drug partnerships was £53.8 million—down from £69.2 million in 2015-16. In Dumfries and Galloway, that led to a cut in direct funding from £1.98 million to £1.53 million. Although local health boards were asked to make up that difference, NHS Dumfries and Galloway was able to find only £234,000 of the £452,000 shortfall.

Colin Smyth said:

“These latest figures are a serious concern, showing that Scotland still has a problem with alcohol misuse and Dumfries and Galloway is no different from the rest of the country. 27 people is more than 2 people every single month in our region needlessly dying because of alcohol, which is a simply appalling.”
“The Scottish Government needs to take bold action, both on prevention and in making sure the right support is in place for people, especially for those affected by poverty. The figures reveal the folly of recent cuts in funding to local alcohol and drugs partnership. In a rural community like ours, having local access in every part of the region to services is crucial if we want to reduce the number of people with alcohol issues but that needs investment. This is why I am opposed cuts to local alcohol-harm support services and will fight to see more investment in local services here in Dumfries and Galloway- not less.”

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