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  1. 5.30pm: New psychoactive substances needs assessment for Tayside, 2014 Report debate

Live Reporting

By Craig Hutchison and Ailsa Brown

All times stated are UK

That's all folks

The meeting of the parliament on 6 January 2015 is now closed.

Holyrood at night

We'll be back at 9.30am tomorrow morning with coverage of the Local Government Committee, until then good night.

Ministerial response

Community Safety and Legal Affairs Paul Wheelhouse says there is much agreement that NPS present a real challenge to us, not just in enforcement but also in education about the risks of the increasing array of NPS.

Mr Wheelhouse says the government has already asked all Alcohol and Drug Partnerships to make tackling NPS a priority.

The minister says he is expecting to receive a report from the expert group established to review the powers which are currently available in Scotland to tackle the sale and supply of NPS, commonly known as 'legal highs'.

Community Safety and Legal Affairs Minister Paul Wheelhouse
Community Safety and Legal Affairs Minister Paul Wheelhouse

The working group is considering the devolved and reserved powers currently available to authorities such as Police Scotland, Trading Standards and the Scottish Government to tackle the issue of NPS.

It also contributes to the Scottish Government's response to the Home Office review of NPS legislation.

Mr Wheelhouse says will be meeting with Home Office ministers to see how both governments can work together. PS.

NPS usage

The authors of the New psychoactive substances needs assessment for Tayside, 2014 Report gathered available routine data, conducted an online population survey and spoke with professionals and various community groups to explore their experiences of NPS.


The number of incidents involving NPS which the Scottish Ambulance Service has attended, according to free text querying, has increased consistently from January 2012 to June 2014.

The report says this may reflect an increased awareness amongst Scottish Ambulance Service staff about NPS who are now proactively asking service-users about possible NPS usage or it could reflect a genuine increase in the number of people requiring emergency medical assistance for NPS use.

New psychoactive substances needs assessment for Tayside, 2014 Report


New psychoactive substances needs assessment for Tayside, 2014 Report was undertaken on behalf of the three Tayside Alcohol and Drugs Partnerships (ADPs) to ascertain the current impact of NPS on the Tayside population.

It states that the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs defines new psychoactive substances (NPS) as "psychoactive drugs which are not prohibited by the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs or by the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, and which people in the UK are seeking for intoxicant use".

Legal highs display

Since 2009, year on year the number of NPS identified to be circulating in Europe has increased.

There are now over 350 substances that the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction are aware of and over 650 websites in Europe who market NPS to consumers, according to the report.

'Move together'

Mr Johnstone says it is important the UK and Scottish government move together to tackle the issue of NPS.

Legal highs
Legal highs were implicated in 60 deaths in Scotland in 2013

He calls for action from Westminster to make these substances illegal and for the Scottish Parliament to help local authorities and police to tackle the issue on the ground.

In conclusion Mr Johnstone praises the community groups for their efforts and the authors of the

New psychoactive substances needs assessment for Tayside, 2014 Report.


The number of deaths in Scotland involving so-called legal highs more than doubled last year, according to

figures published last August.

There were 113 deaths in 2013 where New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) were present, compared with 47 in 2012.

Legal hig
Legal highs are often sold as bath salts and plant food to avoid drug laws in the UK

NPS were implicated in 60 deaths compared with 32 in 2012, but other substances were also implicated in 55.

The number of drug-related deaths dropped by 9% to 526, according to the National Records of Scotland.

'One step ahead of the law'

Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone says he went to a local community activist meeting highlighting the dangers of so called legal highs.

One of the concerns was how readily available in Tayside, he says.

Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone
Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone

The community groups worked together to tackle this and progress has been made he says

Mr Johnstone says this is a complex problem with the manufacturers always "one step ahead of the law".

He says the 'New psychoactive substances needs assessment for Tayside, 2014 Report' is a welcome contribution to the debate.

New psychoactive substances needs assessment for Tayside, 2014 Report debate

Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone is leading a debate on the

'New psychoactive substances needs assessment for Tayside, 2014 Report'.

In his motion Mr Johnstone says the report states that there are now over 350 substances that the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction is aware of and over 650 websites in Europe that market new psychoactive substances (NPS) to consumers.

Bag of 'legal highs'
Getty Images
Bag of 'legal highs'

Mr Johnstone says he understands that in 2013 NPS were found to be a potential contributor to 60 drug deaths in Scotland and he acknowledges the concerns of community groups about the potential impact of NPS and the retail premises that sell them.

He commends the work of these community groups and agencies in raising awareness of the potential dangers of using NPS, and hopes of many that this work will be taken forward locally and nationally to reduce the availability and consumption of NPS.

Decision time results

MSPs back the Labour amendment from the winter festivals debate unanimously, but the Conservative amendment is defeated.

The amended motion from Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop is passed unanimously.

MSPs voting

MSPs then back the Labour amendment from the mental health debate, but vote down the amendments from the Lib Dems and the Tories.

The amended motion from Mental Health Minister Jamie Hepburn is then passed, with 109 MSPs backing it and five voting against.

Decision time

MSPs vote on motions and amendments from the winter festivals debate and the mental health debate.

Government closing

Mental Health Minister Jamie Hepburn says he is certainly happy to look at bringing the subject of mental health to the chamber for debate more frequently.

Mental Health Minister Jamie Hepburn
Mental Health Minister Jamie Hepburn

Mr Hepburn refers to Dennis Robertson's speech saying he understands the issue of eating disorders is very close to him and his family and he will always be happy to discuss any suggestions from Mr Robertson on the issue.

As the new mental health minister draws the debate to a close, he says he will not accept the Lib Dem or Conservative amendments, but will back the one from Labour.

Labour closing

Labour MSP Jenny Marra says she hopes we can put mental health right at the centre of Scotland's health strategy.

"It is one of the biggest health challenges facing Scotland at the moment" says Ms Marra.

"We must be really bold about the challenges ahead of us."

Labour MSP Jenny Marra
Labour MSP Jenny Marra

There is so much we need to look at on the mental health agenda and it is disappointing the government has debated mental health so few times.

She says she and Labour would welcome more debates on the issue.

Conservative closing

Conservative MSP Mary Scanlon says the Scottish Conservatives are supporting the governments motion because they do welcome the level of interest and commitment it is showing on the issue.

Ms Scanlon says although some of the commitments in the strategy haven't been achieved she looks forward to them being achieved.

Tory MSP Mary Scanlon
Tory MSP Mary Scanlon

She also says 40% of GPs told the Scottish Association of Mental Health they hadn't referred anyone for psychological therapies recently because waiting times are too long.

"So we have huge hidden waiting list with enormous unmet need" she says.

'Must do more'

Lib Dem MSP Jim Hume says campaigns like See Me have gone some way to tackling the stigma around mental health, but "we must do more".

Liberal Democrat MSP Jim Hume
Liberal Democrat MSP Jim Hume

He says nine out of 10 people who experience mental health problems have experienced stigma and discrimination.

Mr Hume, in his closing speech, calls for it to be set out in law that mental health and physical health deserve equal recognition. .

Mental health targets

Scotland was the first nation in the UK to introduce a target to ensure faster access to psychological therapies, for all ages.

The target for health boards is that patients get a referral to treatment for psychological therapies within 18 weeks.

Man sitting with head in hands

According to the government the latest data shows the average (median) adjusted waiting time for psychological therapies is 8 weeks, and 81 per cent of people were seen within 18 weeks.

The mental health minister made it clear in his opening speech that he wants to see all the boards meet the target - which is why, he said, the government has embedded it into NHS Scotland's Local Delivery Plan Guidance for 2015 - 2016.

Eating disorders

SNP MSP Dennis Robertson says: "The minister is aware, I am sure, of my own personal circumstances.

"When we look at the child and adolescent mental health service I know it is lacking in some areas."

Mr Robertson's teenage daughter Caroline died after struggling with a severe eating disorder .

The Aberdeenshire West MSP says not every child or adolescent will have their mental health improved through

CAHMs (CHildren and Adolescent Mental Health) because their condition is too extreme.

SNP MSP Dennis Robertson
SNP MSP Dennis Robertson

He says we need to ensure someone is listening at the outset of mental health difficulties, to ensure young people are seen by the most appropriate specialist.

Mr Robertson calls for managed clinical networks for specific conditions, certainly within eating disorders, to help prevent deaths within our communities of young people with those conditions.

Fewer staff

Lib Dem MSP Jim Hume's amendment says since 2009, there have been 883 fewer staffed mental health beds and that Scotland's hospitals have lost 64 specialist mental health nurses.

Lib Dem MSP Jim Hume
Lib Dem MSP Jim Hume

Mr Hume says the targets for mental health treatment times are being missed and he is concerned that hundreds of young people face waits of over six months to begin child and adolescent mental health service treatment.

That treatment, says the Lib Dem MSP, is being carried out in adult wards, which are unsuitable for children's needs.


Conservative MSP Mary Scanlon says she is very pleased to start 2015 with a debate on mental health.

Conservative MSP Mary Scanlon
Conservative MSP Mary Scanlon

Ms Scanlon says whilst she will be supporting the Scottish government's motion this is an "opportunity to review the governments report card".

She details a number of commitments from the strategy where she says nothing has been done.

See Me

See Me is Scotland's programme to tackle mental health stigma and discrimination. We are funded by the Scottish Government and Comic Relief, and managed by SAMH and the Mental Health Foundation.

Its vision is to end mental health stigma and discrimination, enabling people who experience mental health problems to live fulfilled lives.


October last year a new campaign to encourage people to help the one in four suffering from a mental health problem was launched.

Sad man
The new campaign will encourage people to help the one in four suffering from a mental health problem

Nine out of 10 people with mental health problems suffer from stigma or discrimination, according to the national campaign.

See Me said discrimination was still present in work, education, health care and at home.

They launched a campaign at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall to tackle the problem.

It suggests that people highlight discrimination and support those they know are suffering from mental health problems, which affect one in four every year.

'Holistic care'

Dr Simpson's amendment says while there has been progress toward the targets on child and adolescent mental health, the targets have not been met.

The Labour MSP says psychological treatments waiting times remain very challenging and primary care teams are under substantial and increasing time pressure to deliver holistic care, particularly in areas of deprivation where there is a greater amount of mental illness.

Model of head
Will Crocker
People often feel sad during difficult life events

He says initial progress in improving public attitudes to mental illness with the See Me programme, this welcome trend has stalled and there is a need for more robust monitoring and inspection of the variation between NHS boards.

Mental Health Minister Jamie Hepburn has indicated he will support the Labour amendment.

Deprived areas

Labour's Dr Simpson says he welcomes the debate on mental health, hoping it will be one of many following the "paucity of health debates in the past".

The Labour MSP welcomes the tone of the minister's comments.

Labour MSP Richard Simpson
Labour MSP Richard Simpson

He says the "inequality and false division into mind and body" occurred over a century ago and has really dogged medicine ever since.

The trained psychiatrist says GP's do not have time to manage mental health problems, particularly in more deprived areas.

Mental Health Bill

Mr Hepburn details the measures in the

Mental Health (Scotland) Bill , which was introduced in the Scottish Parliament on 19 June 2014.

The overarching objective of the Bill is to help people with a mental disorder access effective treatment quickly and easily.

Talking therapies are one treatment option for schizophrenia
Talking therapies are one treatment option for schizophrenia

The Scottish government announced last year an additional £15m over the next three years for mental health services and had introduced Mental Health Bill to improve the operation of the Mental Health Act 2003.

Scottish government strategy

The Mental Health Strategy 2012-15 sets out the government's priorities and commitments to improve mental health services and to promote mental wellbeing and prevent mental illness.

Woman with head in hands

Key Themes:

  • The Mental Health Strategy identifies seven key themes, which emerged from the consultation process, which will be emphasised during implementation of the Mental Health Strategy:
  • Working more effectively with families and carers
  • Embedding more peer to peer work and support
  • Increasing the support for self-management and self help approaches
  • Extending the anti-stigma agenda forward to include further work on discrimination
  • Focusing on the rights of those with mental illness
  • Developing the outcomes approach to include personal, social and clinical outcomes
  • Ensuring that we use new technology effectively as a mechanism for providing information and delivering evidence based services

Mental health minister

Mental Health Minister Jamie Hepburn says one of his resolutions for the New Year is to do everything he can to improve mental health in our country.

Sport, Health Improvement and Mental Health Minister Jamie Hepburn
Sport, Health Improvement and Mental Health Minister Jamie Hepburn

Mr Hepburn points out the fact 'mental health' is part of his ministerial title shows the importance the first minister is giving to tackling mental health.

It is vital this parliament debates topics relating to mental health and stigma frequently says the minister.

Mental health debate

Sport, Health Improvement and Mental Health Minister Jamie Hepburn is leading a debate on mental health.

Mr Hepburn's motion welcomes the level of interest and commitment to improving mental health and mental health services.

It says the NHS places equal importance on the care and treatment of mental and physical illness.

generic depressed woman
Almost a third of all GP appointments in Scotland relate to mental health, according to doctors

The new minister highlights the Scottish government's recent announcement of an additional £15 million investment in mental health service.

He says he looks forward to improving mental health and wellbeing as a fundamental and integral part of delivering person-centred, safe and effective healthcare services.

Closing speech

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop says it has been "an enjoyable debate" during her closing speech to the chamber on winter festivals.

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop
Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop

Ms Hyslop says she enjoys the "energy, participation and authenticity that lies at the heart of our tourism offering".

Deprived communities

Labour MSP Anne McTaggart says there is no doubt Scotland plays a host to an "impressive array of events over the winter period.

Ms McTaggart says participation in our winter festivals is growing year on year.

Labour MSP Anne McTaggart
Labour MSP Anne McTaggart

She says "No one celebrates Hogmanay like us, the Scots".

However, the Labour MSP says people in our most deprived communities still participate less in these festivities missing out on their benefits.

Ms McTaggart concludes praising the volunteers across Scotland who make the winter festivals happen.

Coherent arts strategy

Conservative MSP Cameron Buchanan says "It's always welcome to hear about the cultural successes throughout Scotland and our winter festivals have done us proud once more"

Mr Buchanan says the parliament must use these debates to focus attention on what needs to be done to build on these successes.

Conservative MSP Cameron Buchanan
Conservative MSP Cameron Buchanan

However he says "more could be done by the Scottish government to support our winter festivals" and the Scottish conservatives have submitted an amendment for a coherent arts strategy to boost our cultural reputation.

A fully coherent arts strategy is needed as soon as possible he says.

Scottish government funding

Over 2014/15 Ms Hyslop told the chamber the Scottish government is investing around £500,000 in Scotland's Winter Festivals.

This is supporting a series of 18 funded events across 12 local authority areas.

Events include the Oban Winter Festival, which included over 50 events, set around St Andrews Day; and "Haggis, Beasts and Tatties", a celebration of Burns, at the Eden Court Theatre in Inverness.

Flaming fireballs at Stonehaven
Ros O'Sullivan
Flaming fireballs helped get the party swinging along the streets of Stonehaven

Marketing and promotion of the Winter Festivals is led by the Scottish government, with support from VisitScotland.


Tens of thousands of party-goers took to the streets for Hogmanay celebrations across Scotland.

Edinburgh hosted an estimated 75,000 people at its world famous street party and fireworks display.

Edinburgh Castle
Four sets of fireworks displays welcomed in the New Year in Edinburgh this year

Events to welcome in 2015 took place in Aberdeen, Inverness, Stonehaven and around the country, while a warm-up party was also held in Glasgow.

Fireworks in Aberdeen
Michael Diamond
Fireworks also lit up the skies to take in the bells in Aberdeen

An outdoor concert planned for the Stirling Castle esplanade was cancelled because of winds gusting up to 100mph.

Edinburgh Castle
The capitol's sensational fireworks display

Celtic fire festival

The start of winter was as ever marked with a huge Celtic fire festival in Edinburgh.

Samhuinn Fire Festival
Matt Dale
The Samhuinn Fire Festival will use ancient Celtic traditions, fire, drumming and acrobatics combined with pyrotechnics and martial arts

The Samhuinn Fire Festival featured ancient Celtic traditions, fire, drumming and acrobatics combined with pyrotechnics and martial arts.

Samhuinn Fire Festival
Klara Osickova
The event is held in Edinburgh every Halloween night to mark the turning of the seasons

The event, held in Edinburgh every Halloween night to mark the turning of the seasons, had a record number of spectators on a new bigger route.

It started at 21:00 on Friday from the High Street and finished at The Mound.

Samhuinn Fire Festival
Raini Scott
The end of summer and start of winter is being marked later with a huge Celtic fire festival in Edinburgh

A procession of drums, fire and characters from Celtic lore made their way from the High Street and down Cockburn Street.

It then travelled along Market Street and down Playfair Steps where there was a show on a stage at The Mound.

'Hugely influential'

Liz Smith, for the Conservatives, says: "These winter festivals are hugely important on both a national and an international scale".

in order to provide the greatest support for winter festivals, along with all other cultural activity in Scotland, there needs to be a "fully coherent arts strategy".

Tory MSP Liz Smith
Tory MSP Liz Smith

This strategy should provide arts bodies, both local and national, with the integrated support and funding priorities that they need in order that Scotland can enhance its cultural reputation both at home and abroad, says the Tory MSP.

Community life

Labour MSP Claire Baker says "winter festivals are growing in popularity in recent years and are increasingly seen as an important part of community life".

Whilst big events, like Edinburgh's Hogmannay celebrations, remain the major focus the winter festivals give people the opportunity to travel further afield.

Edinburgh fireworks
Four sets of fireworks displays welcomed in the New Year in Edinburgh this year

Ms Baker highlights the importance of smaller, local festivals as they increase in number and help local economies.


Labour Culture Spokesperson Claire Baker
Labour Culture Spokesperson Claire Baker

Labour MSP Claire Baker's amendment focuses on the many local and community-organised winter festivals that take place throughout Scotland, and commends the hard work of volunteers, local groups and small businesses that make such events a success.

Year of Food and Drink

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop says the success of the winter festivals is down to partnership with many organisations and is not top driven.

The winters festival programme helps promote visits to Scotland all year around, says the minister, and have been a great success.

Ms Hyslop looks ahead to 2015 and heralds the "fantastic" launch programme of the

Year of Food and Drink.

Haggis neeps and tatties

More than 200 businesses took part in the new drive to promote Scottish produce across the tourism sector earlier this month.

It is being supported by VisitScotland and will include a new TV advert which will be shown across the UK.

Scotland's food and drink tourism industry is estimated to be worth £2.5m a day to the economy.

Culture Secretary

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop's motion praises the contribution that Scotland's Winter Festival programme makes in promoting Scotland both nationally and internationally as a world-class cultural tourism destination and the perfect stage for events all year round.

It says the programme of St Andrew's Day, Christmas, Hogmanay and Burns Night celebrations is gathering momentum year-on-year and offers a real taste of the nation's distinct traditions and contemporary culture through the promotion of Scottish music, arts, food and drink.

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop
Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop

Ms Hyslop says the festivals have and will continue to play an important role in supporting Scotland's successful programme of themed years, and welcomes the contribution that the winter festivals make in helping to promote Scotland as a great place to visit, study, work, invest and do business all year round.

Winter festivals debate

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop is leading a debate on

winter festivals.

Scotland's Winter Festivals events run across St Andrew's Day, Christmas, Hogmanay and Burns Night in a celebration of Scottish culture and creativity, spread across the country.

Edinburgh torch light procession
A torchlight procession on Tuesday heralded the start of Edinburgh's three-day celebrations

In September 2014 Culture and External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop announced an award of £315,000 to be granted to events across Scotland as part of the 2014/15 Scotland's Winter Festivals programme.

The funding was awarded to 18 events in total, comprising seven St Andrew's Day events, five regional Hogmanay events and four Burns celebrations.

'Courage and compassion'

Labour MSP James Kelly
Labour MSP James Kelly

James Kelly, the Labour MSP for Glasgow Rutherglen, praises his constituent Pauline Cafferkey, as her "courage and compassion is an example to us all."

Cautionary principle

Conservative MSP Jackson Carlaw also praises Pauline Cafferkey saying given her experience as a health care worker, should the concern she expressed about her own health on arriving in the UK not have been taken more seriously

Ms Sturgeon says that is a reasonable point, but says it is important to stress the guidance and protocols around screening were all adhered to.

Conservative MSP Jackson Carlaw
Conservative MSP Jackson Carlaw

The first minister says the question is were they precautionary enough, adding when someone from an affected country returns should they be treated in a more cautionary fashion.

She says we need to act on highest possible basis of precaution.

Labour question

Deputy Leader of the Scottish Labour Party Kezia Dugdale praises Ms Cafferkey for her "extraordinary" bravery saying she is a hero, as are all the aid workers who fight Ebola.

Ms Dugdale says Ebola is taking hold of countries least equipped to cope and welcomes the Scottish government money.

How will that money be used to tackle the outbreak in West Africa, asks the Labour MSP.

Deputy Leader of the Scottish Labour Party Kezia Dugdale
Deputy Leader of the Scottish Labour Party Kezia Dugdale

Ms Sturgeon gives details of the £1m funding.

£500,000 has gone to the World Health Organisation (WHO), £300,000 has gone to medical equipment and £200,000 has gone to the

DEC Appeal.