THE SNP Government has committed to offer at least 1,000 people a rehab place by 2026 in response to Scotland’s drugs death crisis.

Drugs Policy Minister Angela Constance told MSPs that over the next five years “everyone who wants residential rehabilitation, and for whom it is considered clinically appropriate, can access it”.

The Scottish Conservatives have published a consultation on embedding a right to rehab into law and have previously called on the SNP Government to back their proposals.

Last year, 1,339 people died in Scotland because of drug use, a 5% per cent rise from the previous year and a figure that represented an all-time high for drug-related deaths in the country.

READ MORE: Scotland's drug deaths: 1,339 Scots died in 2020 after drugs misuse

Scotland has the unenviable position as the drugs death captial of Europe and SNP ministers have pledged an extra £100 million to try and halt the trend.

Plans to set up a National Care Service on the same footing as the NHS could also include support for drug rehabilitation services.

Ms Constance admitted "we carry a national shame of thousands of heart-breaking drug-related deaths".

She said: “While there is much to be done to address our drug deaths crisis, we are making changes to support people to access the treatment and recovery that is right for them.

“Our commitment to increase the number of publically funded places by 300% and the number of beds by 50% will provide options for those who can safely access and who want to access residential rehab.

READ MORE: Scotland's drug deaths: Care service plans could sweep up rehab provision

“The funding announced for these latest projects comes from the additional £100 million we are investing in residential rehabilitation over the next five and we are determined every penny of that will make a difference.”

She added: “My priorities are on making people’s rights real by funding and shaping new services, supporting the development of clear pathways and reforming the commissioning model.

“This is about supporting people, this is about getting more people into the treatment and recovery that is right for them. And by doing so we can help people flourish and feel hopeful about their futures and we, as a country, can see through this crisis to a better time.”

Under the Scottish Government’s plans to increase the number of people who can access treatment, Ms Constance announced more than £11 million of taxpayer funding for two drug projects to enable them to expand their residential rehabilitation services as part of a commitment to raise the number of beds in Scotland by 50 per cent to 650 in 2026 from the current number of just 425.

The cash has been awarded to the River Garden Auchincruive in South Ayrshire, which will use the funding over the next five years to increase capacity from seven to 56 residents, and also to build a new women’s unit.

Ms Constance said that NHS Lothian will receive around £5 million to create capacity to support roughly 600 additional placements over five years at the Lothians and Edinburgh Abstinence Programme and increase capacity at the Ritson detoxification clinic from eight beds to 12.

But the speed of the increase in beds came under fire from Scottish LibDem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton, who said Scotland faced an issue of “global proportion” and that he was “very concerned” it would take five years to reach that figure.

He added: “People are dying today.

READ MORE: Drug deaths: 'National priority' for SNP to roll out new treatment standards

“What is keeping us? Why is this going to take so long to deliver?”

Ms Constance stressed that “we have taken significant steps forward without detracting always from the need to do more and go further and faster”.

She added that £18 million has been committed as the first stage of the residential rehab programme, insisting “this will add an additional 77 beds, increase capacity by 18% and will provide 450 more placements over time, and this is an important first step”.

Sue Webber, the Scottish Conservatives’ drugs policy spokesperson, said that MSPs had “heard again about the importance of getting more people into the treatment and recovery that is right for them”.

She added: “The problem with that idea and ideology of person-centred care is in reality the care people receive is system-centred, or organisation-centred.

“Patients generally get what the system or organisation is willing and able to deliver.”