Sturgeon’s excruciating debate admission – admits she ‘took eye off ball’ on drug crisis

Sturgeon grilled by Ross on drug deaths in Scotland

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Nicola Sturgeon faced questions from Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross over the increase in drug-related deaths during her time as first minister. In the STV debate, Mr Ross said: “Drug deaths in Scotland have doubled in the time you have been first minister, why did you allow a drug rehabilitation facility in your own constituency to close two years ago?”

Ms Sturgeon responded: “I think we took our eye off the ball with drug deaths and I’ve said as much to the Scottish Parliament.

“I set out what we will do to try and turn that around.

“I set out at the start of this year £250million investment programme to build up rehabilitation services including residential rehabilitation to make sure we give more support to community services, to make sure we provide faster access to treatment.

“We have a task force working on that.”

Mr Ross interjected: “And you know that’s funding we asked for as Scottish Conservatives and I welcome that funding but it doesn’t take back a single life that’s already been lost.

“I asked you a very specific question about your constituency which you failed to answer.”

Ms Sturgeon, the SNP leader who has been First Minister of Scotland since 2014, came under fire over her record in government.

As she was questioned by her rival leaders, Mr Ross accused her of failing to meet promises made in key areas.

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The Tory leader told her: “You have made promises on the attainment gap, victims’ rights, broadband, ferries, income tax and the treatment time guarantee.

“You have delivered your promises on none of them. You have let down Scotland for the last 14 years.”

He continued his attack by saying: “Now in an economic crisis, you want to wreck Scotland’s recovery.”

Ms Sturgeon said “progress” had been made in tackling the attainment gap in schools and NHS waiting times had been reducing before Covid-19 hit.

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Ms Sturgeon said: “I am proud of the record of the Government I have led.”

She added: “Like all governments we make mistakes, and we get things wrong and we do not shy away from putting it right and learning the lessons.”

Mr Rennie, the Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, pressed her on her record on education – noting she had previously said closing the attainment gap in schools would be her top priority.

“We haven’t done that yet,” Ms Sturgeon conceded.

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