Drug Deaths Taskforce response: cross government approach

Cross government response to the Drug Deaths Taskforce report, Changing Lives. It contains a cross government action plan, response to Taskforce recommendations and a stigma action plan.

18. Digital innovation

Taskforce Recommendation: The Scottish Government and wider local leadership should embrace digital innovation, finding ways to improve how people access health, care and support at the point of need.

Digital innovation is vital across all services and is supported by the Scottish Government directly. We are encouraging local areas to embrace innovation as part of improving their services and improving accessibility to their services. This is closely linked to our overall aim to increase digital inclusion, to ensure that everyone has the opportunity and motivation to develop their skills and confidence, access appropriate devices and connectivity to do the things they want to do online. This is key to social inclusion, human support and connection. We have established a Digital Lifelines programme through which £2.75 million has been made available to help people at risk from drug-related harm stay connected to life-saving services. The funding is used to supply and distribute smart phones and other appropriate devices, provide data and to build the skills and confidence of people using services and those who support them. The initiative will reach a minimum of 2,000 service users and 200 staff through a collaboration between a wide range of service providers, stakeholders, service users and carers.

Scottish Government and the Digital Lifelines Programme also supported the Overdose Detection and Responder Alert Technologies (ODART) project delivered by the Drugs Research Network Scotland at Stirling and St Andrews Universities. This researched developing technological solutions to reducing drug overdoses such as apps to connect people, wearable devices to detect overdose and information to support harm prevention. Following its publication, Scottish Government have funded further research studies into some of the promising interventions. These, and other similar innovations, will make a difference in terms of saving lives.

In November 2022, the Scottish Government announced its involvement in an Open Innovation Challenge being run collaboratively between the Chief Scientists Office (CSO) and the Office for Life Sciences (OLS) in the UK Government's Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Through this collaboration, £5 million will be made available through a challenge round to projects specifically looking at reducing drug deaths and which will support open innovation, with a focus on rapid detection, response and intervention to potential overdoses, seeking to identify new ways through which to address immediate harm and prevent overdose from becoming fatal. To assist with this work, the CSO has established a Reducing Drug Deaths Innovation Consortium Leadership Group which brings together industry, academia and the NHS to galvanise activity in this area.


Email: Drugsmissiondeliveryteam@gov.scot

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