Former chief nurse appointed deputy chairwoman of drugs taskforce

Professor Fiona McQueen retired as chief nursing officer last year.

Craig Paton
Wednesday 19 January 2022 14:18
The taskforce was formed in response to Scotland’s soaring drug deaths (Paul Faith/PA)
The taskforce was formed in response to Scotland’s soaring drug deaths (Paul Faith/PA)

Scotland’s former chief nursing officer has been appointed deputy chairwoman of the drug deaths taskforce.

Professor Fiona McQueen’s appointment follows the resignation of former chairwoman Professor Catriona Matheson and her deputy, Neil Richardson, after they were asked by the drugs minister to speed up their final recommendations.

In a statement last week, Angela Constance confirmed that David Strang – a former Chief Inspector of Prisons and high-ranking police officer – would lead the group, reiterating her desire for a final report to be published by the summer.

This work is critical in changing people's lives when they are at their most vulnerable and I am privileged to have been invited to be part of it

Professor Fiona McQueen

Prof McQueen retired from her position as chief nursing officer last year and attended her first meeting of the taskforce on Wednesday.

“I am delighted to have been appointed to the taskforce and am looking forward to learning about the progress that has already been made and building upon that in the development of the taskforce’s final recommendations,” she said.

“This work is critical in changing people’s lives when they are at their most vulnerable and I am privileged to have been invited to be part of it.”

Mr Strang added: “I am pleased to be chairing this important taskforce as it continues its work to reduce drug deaths in Scotland.

Professor Fiona McQueen (centre) with nurses; she retired as chief nursing officer last year and has been appointed deputy chairwoman of the drug deaths taskforce (Scottish Government/PA)

“I look forward to working closely with Professor McQueen and all the members of the taskforce.

“During this first meeting we explored initiatives taking place in partnership with Police Scotland including the pilot scheme for police officers carrying naloxone to reduce the risk of people dying from a drug overdose.

“We also heard about the work of navigators in police custody, who provide vital support for people wanting to access treatment for their drug dependency.

“Our next meeting will be on March  2, when we will be examining how we can best reach people who are in urgent need of support and treatment.”

The taskforce was formed in response to soaring drug deaths in Scotland, with 1,339 people losing their lives in 2020, according to official figures.

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