National Mission Oversight Group minutes: June 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the national mission oversight group on 22 June 2023.

Attendees and apologies

  • David Strang, Chair
  • Elena Whitham, Minister for Drugs and Alcohol Policy
  • Dr Andrew McAuley, Glasgow Caledonian University
  • Susanna Galea-Singer, Royal College of Psychiatrisits
  • Sally Amor, Lived and Living Experience Representative
  • Iain Smith, Keegan Smith Law
  • Kirsten Horsburgh, Scottish Drugs Forum
  • ACC Gary Ritchie, Police Scotland
  • Emma Crawshaw, CREW 2000 Scotland
  • Stephen McCutcheon, Lived and Living Experience Representative
  • Chris Williams, Royal College of GPs
  • Justina Murray, Scottish Families affected by Drugs and Alcohol
  • Laura Wilson, Royal Pharmaceutical Society
  • Professor Tessa Parkes, University of Stirling
  • Eddie Follan, COSLA
  • Nicholas Phin, Public Health Scotland


  • Professor Thomas Kerr, University British Columbia
  • Dr Sharon Stancliff, New York City Health Department
  • Dr Michel Kazatchkine, WWHO/Europe
  • Sandra Holmes, Lived and Living Experience Representative
  • Jardine Simpson, Scottish Recovery Consortium
  • Lorraine McGrath, Simon Community Scotland
  • Billy Watson, SAMH
  • Belinda Phipps, With you

Also Attended

  • Graeme Callendar, With You
  • Orlando Heijmer-Mason, Scottish Government
  • Maggie Page, Scottish Government
  • Morris Fraser, Scottish Government
  • Alison Crocket, Scottish Government
  • Penny Halliday, Dumfries and Galloway ADP
  • Beth Culshaw, West Dumbartonshire ADP
  • Sylvia Chatfield, West Dumbartonshire ADP


  • Emma Wright, Scottish Government
  • John McLaughlin, Scottish Government
  • Geraldine Smtih, Scottish Government


Items and actions

Welcome and board governance

The chair welcomed members and attendees to the fifth meeting of the national mission oversight group (NMOG). Apologies were noted.

The chair also welcomed the new minister for drugs and alcohol policy, Ms Whitham, to her first meeting of the NMOG.

The chair reiterated, for the benefit of the new Minister and the deputes, the purpose of the National Mission is to save and improve lives through fast and appropriate access to treatment and support through all services. The NMOG role is to challenge, provide scrutiny, challenge, and advice to Scottish Government (SG).

The minute of the previous meeting on 23 March 2023 was formally approved. The summary minute for this meeting has been published on the website.

The actions and advice trackers were reviewed, noting there are no outstanding actions.


The chair went round the table asking members to introduce themselves and advise what organisation they were from.

Ministerial Introduction

Ms Whitham introduced herself to the group as the new minister for drugs and alcohol policy, joining the group and taking over from her predecessor, Angela Constance. 

Ms Whitham provided the group with a short speech on her background and previous work that she has been involved in which has led her to become the minister for drugs and alcohol policy.

She spoke of the importance of the role of the NMOG in relation to the national mission, stating that the NMOG was a critical friend to the national mission.

Update from scottish families affected by drugs and alcohol (SFAD) families conference

JM gave a brief update to the group on the SFAD families conference which took place on 28 and 29 March 2023.

Day one was for family members, with 107 attendees and attendance was widened in day two with a total of 181 attendees. It was a highly successful conference and there are now future plans to implement roadshows.

JM advised attendees that the full agenda and presentations can be found by googling ‘SFAD families on the front line.’

Evaluation response review

DS thanked those who had submitted an evaluation form, seven were received, and encouraged members who have not done so to submit one.

Common themes from the evaluation form included:

  • need for further clarity around the purpose of the NMOG
  • need for further clarity around the aims of the national mission
  • keen sense of having more in person meetings and more regular meetings (possible six times per year)

SG update since last meeting and reflections on the midpoint of the national mission

MP referenced the SG update paper (NMOG 05/23-06) 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


There was an overall agreement that there has been a lot of positive work done over the past year.

Members agreed that there has not been a lot of discussion on MAT standards 6-10 and questioned the lack of progress with these. MF advised that the main focus of year one was MAT standards 1-5 and getting them all green and the next focus would be standards 6-10.

Members highlighted that it was key to look at sustainability post 2026, identifying what is good and bad about the system and what should be kept, along with what we should be doing now to ensure continuation of positive work post 2026.

ADP experiences and observations in the implementation of the national mission – Dumfries and Galloway

PH presented on behalf of Dumfries and Galloway ADP. Key points included:

  • financial challenges 
  • other challenges
  • positives and success

ADP experiences and observations in the implementation of the national mission – West Dunbartonshire

SC and BC presented on behalf of West Dunbartonshire ADP. Key points included:

  • local context
  • initial actions
  • delivery challenges
  • outcomes so far
  • next steps

Discussion and feedback session – SG and ADP experiences and observations in the implementation of the national mission

DS invited members to discuss the presentations they had received from MP and our ADP presenters.


There was an in-depth discussion around information governance and GDPR, with questions around what information agreements are in place.

Concerns voiced around ongoing financial challenges and the minister stressed that this is something that will be looked in to further.

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.

Members noted that it is key to consider international factors which may impact on Scotland’s opioid problem such as trends in synthetic opiates and disruptions to heroin supply at source in Afghanistan.

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 31 August 2023.

The next meeting is scheduled to take place on 21 September 2023 at 3pm. The group agreed that this meeting would also be in person, therefore the time will be changed to earlier. Secretariat will advise of the new time as soon as possible.

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