SNP ministers have been warned that inaction is “putting lives on the line” after new statistics revealed the number of suspected drug deaths in Scotland has risen.

The figures from Public Health Scotland show that in October and November, the number of people killed from suspected drug use has seen a “sharp increase” following a previous downward trend.

Read more: 'Unacceptable': Scotland's drug death crisis flatlines with 1,330 annual fatalities in 2021

Public Health Scotland’s Rapid Action Drugs Alerts and Response (Radar) quarterly report shows 109 people died from suspected drug use in November, higher than the same month in both 2021 (89) and 2020 (93).

Figures for October were not included in the report.

As a result of the rise in drug deaths in Scotland, SNP ministers pledged to publish suspected drug death statistics on a quarterly basis, with the most recent release in December showing a fall of 15 per cent between July and September when compared to the previous quarter.

Suspected drug deaths are reported based on Police Scotland management information and are not confirmed through toxicology.

Read more: Scotland's drug deaths broken down in charts and maps

SNP drugs policy minister Angela Constance extended her “deepest sympathy to all those affected by the loss of a loved one through drugs”.

She added: “Although the suspected drugs deaths figures showed a 21% decrease for the first nine months of last year, this latest report indicates a sharp increase in October and November.

“I am aware that this report uses management information provided by Police Scotland and is based on attending officers’ observations and initial inquiries at the scene of death but, of course, the numbers we are seeing are still far too high.

“We remain focused on our ongoing efforts to get more people into the form of treatment which works best for them.

“We are committed to delivering drug checking facilities in Scotland which would enable us to respond faster to emerging trends and we would anticipate that licence applications to the Home Office, to grant permission for the establishment of these facilities in Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen, will be submitted early this year.”

Read more: MSPs back £68m three year plan to tackle drug deaths

Scottish Labour drugs spokesman Paul O’Kane warned there is “no room for complacency” in tackling drug deaths.

He added: “Every single one of these deaths was preventable, and each one is a tragedy.

“This is a national emergency and the SNP need to start treating it as one.

“Lives are on the line – the SNP must start acting with the urgency needed, starting by scrapping their dangerous plans to cut funding to vital drug and alcohol services.”

Scottish Conservative drugs spokesperson, Sue Webber, said: “Drug deaths are Scotland’s national shame and it is deeply concerning that the number of fatalities increased towards the end of last year.

“Nicola Sturgeon admitted taking her eye of the ball and it would be utterly inexcusable if this were to be happening again.

"Far too often we get warm words and lengthy reports from SNP ministers. But precious little in the way of action on the frontline to tackle the drugs-death epidemic."

She added: “Tragically, over 100 families in just a single month were grieving the loss of a loved one as a result of drugs in November. 

"My heartfelt thoughts are with them. Scotland continues to have by far the highest drug deaths rate in Europe.  This is happening on the SNP’s watch and progress in tackling this scourge is moving at a snail’s pace.

“As the SNP continue to dither and delay, they are choosing to ignore the voices of those with extensive lived experience and expertise.

“Angela Constance says she backs the Scottish Conservatives’ Right to Recovery Bill in principle. The drugs minister must use these figures as an urgent wake-up call and give her full support to the bill, which would guarantee treatment to everyone who needs it and is backed by frontline experts.”