• Ariane Beaver

New Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) Standards from Scottish Government

In May 2021, The Scottish Government, Public Health Scotland and the Drug Deaths Taskforce published the new Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) Standards for Scotland. These standards have been developed by the Drugs Death Taskforce alongside the people, families and loved ones of those with lived and living experience of substance use. As a result, utilizing this valuable knowledge has been integral in identifying what existing issues there are regarding the prevention of drug related deaths (DRD’s), and has helped establish new methods of effective support provision. In short, these new standards promote a more holistic, person centred outlook as they encompass the following core principles; a clear purpose, informed choice, and the importance of a sufficiently trained work force. These principles embrace the notion of the right to health and the right to life by underpinning a ‘no barrier’ approach to care and support, in turn drawing a direct parallel to the Scottish Government’s National Mission of delivering a human rights based framework.

The Drugs Death Taskforce was established in 2019 and has prioritized the introduction of standards for MAT in order to improve our treatment response and effectively reduce DRD’s and other harms, as well as promoting recovery. They have illustrated the need for these standards to be implemented at pace in order to create meaningful and effective reform, underpinned by the aim of Angela Constance, Minister for Drugs Policy, to have MAT standards “fully embedded across the country by April 2022”. This is also echoed in the overarching vision for NHS Scotland that any service delivering health and social care will adopt a realistic, person centred medicine approach by 2025. In order to do this, bold leadership is crucial to ensure consistent implementation of these standards.

The standards themselves provide a clear framework for MAT to adhere to in order to certify that the implementation is safe, effective, acceptable, accessible and person centred. The provision of MAT caters to the health and wider social needs of individuals, which in turn will improve interventions and ultimately will help to reduce risks through supporting people to stay in treatment by delivering tailored and well-rounded services.

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