National Mission Oversight Group minutes: March 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 23 March 2023.

Attendees and apologies

  • Angela Constance, (former) Minister for Drugs Policy
  • David Strang, Chair
  • Dave Liddell, Scottish Drugs Forum
  • Jardine Simpson, Scottish Recovery Consortium
  • Emma Crawshaw, CREW
  • Belinda Phipps, With You
  • Sandra Holmes, Lived and Living Experience
  • Laura Wilson, Royal Pharmaceutical Society
  • Eddie Follan, COSLA
  • Prof. Thomas Kerr, University of British Columbia
  • Dr Andrew McAuley, Glasgow Caledonian University
  • Prof. Tessa Parkes, University of Stirling
  • Nicholas Phin, Public Health Scotland
  • Stephen McCutcheon, Lived and Living Experience
  • Sally Amor, Lived and Living Experience
  • Iain Smith, Keegan Smith Law
  • ACC Gary Ritchie, Police Scotland
  • Lorraine McGrath, Simon Community Scotland
  • Richard Foggo, Scottish Government
  • Maggie Page, Scottish Government
  • Morris Fraser, Scottish Government
  • Alison Crocket, Scottish Government
  • Roz Currie, Scottish Government
  • Alice Burling-Brown, Scottish Government
  • Martin Shanahan, Scottish Government


  • Susanna Galea-Singer, Royal College of Psychiatrists
  • Chris Williams, Royal College of GPs
  • Sharon Stancliff, New York City Health Department
  • Billy Watson, SAMH
  • Dr Michel Kazatchkine, WWHO/Europe
  • Orlando Heijmer-Mason, Scottish Government


  • Emma Wright, Scottish Government
  • Lee-Ann Wilson, Scottish Government
  • Paul Sutherland, Scottish Government
  • Aime Jaffeno, Scottish Government
  • Stuart Henderson, Scottish Government
  • Henry Acres, Scottish Government

Items and actions

Welcome and introduction 

The Chair welcomed members and attendees to the fourth meeting of the National Mission Oversight Group.

The Chair also welcomed five new members to the National Mission Oversight Group; Sally Amor, Stephen McCutcheon, Nicholas Phin, ACC Gary Ritchie, and Iain Smith.

The Chair reiterated, for the benefit of the new members, the purpose of the National Mission and the Oversight Group role is to challenge, provide scrutiny, challenge, and advice to Scottish Government (SG).

Finally, the chair also noted that James Docherty and Rachel McGrath stood down from their membership of the group, as LLE representatives. He thanked James and Rachel for their time and contributions to the group.

Board governance

The minute of the previous meeting on 8 December 2022 was formally approved. The summary minute for this meeting has been published on the website.

The actions and advice trackers were reviewed, noting action 3 from meeting 2 will be revisited at a future date.

SG update since last meeting

MP referenced the SG update paper (NMOG 04/23-02) which was provided in advance of the meeting, highlighting preference to discuss and take any questions and summarised content. The key areas included:

  • achievements since the last meeting
  • actions for the coming months
  • areas of focus until June 2023


The Minister advised the group that alcohol treatment now sits under the national mission and her portfolio.

Members of the Oversight Group asked whether there was anything that the SG could highlight that should be moving forward at a faster pace or if there was anything the group should be aware of. MP advised that this was something that could be considered for discission at a future meeting, and forthcoming publication of the implementation report for the MAT standards, due in June 2023, would provide a good vehicle for reviewing progress. 

Action: Drugs policy colleagues to consider having a future agenda item which includes areas that the group should be aware of.

There was a lot of discussion around mental health and how this impacts on the needs of people with drug problems not being fully met. Often addiction services do not support people with mental health issues and mental health services do not support people with problem drug use, each of these should not be barriers to the other getting help and support. Many people with problem drug use will experience metal health issues.

Suspected drug related death stats

MP shared a short presentation on the suspected drug related deaths stats, published on 14 March 2023. Members are asked to share any questions or observations with secretariat.

Action: members to share any questions or observations on the suspected drug related death stats with secretariat.

Deep dive – cross-government action plan

RC presented key points from the paper shared in advance of the meeting on the cross-government action plan. MS attended to provide further information on mental health and ABB provided context in terms of budget.


Key discussion surrounded mental health and the difficulties people with mental health issues face when getting help for their substance use and vice versa – few services will help someone before they receive help for their mental health.

Other members noted that work on stimulants should also be included, not just the work on opioids.

Members stressed the importance of including those with life experience in the work that is done and including lived and living experience in the planning along with the challenges posed from implementing policy, such as over worked front line staff, access and prioritisation.

Other concerns surrounded that of location and that often people cannot access the services they need due to the logistics of getting to these services. Suggestion that there should be a central pharmacy or consumption room for people who live in rural areas.

Reiterated the importance of getting the groups opinion on what the blockers are and identifying how to remove them. Key to be sure that we are bringing forward the right information to drive real change.

Any other business and close

The Minister expressed her thanks to everyone for attending and providing detailed discussions. 

The Chair reminded attendees that, should they have any items that they would like to add to the agenda for the next meeting, they should let the steering group know in advance of their meeting on 1 June 2023.

The next meeting is scheduled to take place on 22 June 2023 at 3pm.

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