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Scotland appoints new drugs minister after Elena Whitham quits due to post-traumatic stress

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First Minister Humza Yousaf has also announced the appointment of Neil Gray MSP as Cabinet Secretary for NHS Recovery, Health and Social Care.  

The Scottish government has appointed Christina McKelvie MSP as the new Minister for Drugs and Alcohol policy, following the resignation of Elena Whitham MSP due to health reasons.

In a letter to the First Minister, Whitham said she was receiving treatment for post-traumatic stress, which had “greatly” affected her wellbeing.

Commenting on the news, Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) Scotland thanked Whitham for supporting them, particularly for her “efforts to bring in a new national service to provide emergency access to supplies of naloxone.”

RPS Scotland has continuously advocated for the accessibility of naloxone through all community pharmacies (for supply to people who use drugs, family, healthcare professionals and carers), and to make it available in all clinical settings for use in emergencies.

It was also the top recommendation of their policy on Pharmacy’s role in reducing harm and preventing drug deaths.

The policy highlighted areas where pharmacists and pharmacy teams can contribute effectively to the treatment and prevention of drug harms, and made 14 recommendations to achieve this.

Laura Wilson, Director of RPS Scotland, said: “Pharmacy teams have a huge role to play in reducing harm and preventing drugs deaths across Scotland.

“We’re pleased with some of the policy steps which have been taken so far, most notably the national naloxone service brought in last year, which is extremely welcome.

“There is still so much to do, and we look forward to working with Ms McKelvie, and Scottish government more widely, to implement additional policies to reduce harm and prevent drug deaths.”

In another cabinet reshuffle, Neil Gray MSP has been appointed as Cabinet Secretary for NHS Recovery, Health and Social Care.

Conforming the appointment, Yousaf said: “As Economy Secretary, Neil Gray has been widely praised for resetting the relationship with business. Now at the helm of the NHS – our most precious institution – and social care, Neil will be charged with continuing its recovery from Covid, driving down waiting times, and reforming the service to improve outcomes for patients.”

Wilson congratulated Gray on his appointment and said they are looking forward to working with him in his new role.

“RPS will be seeking an introductory meeting with Mr Gray as soon as possible to discuss shared patient data and our other policy priorities including introducing workforce planning for pharmacy and progressing our work on environmental sustainability in healthcare settings,” she said.

Wilson highlighted that ensuring pharmacists in all settings have read-write access to patient records to support prescribing decisions is at the top of their list of policy priorities.

“With all pharmacists coming out of undergraduate training as prescribers from 2026, this issue is more urgent than ever,” she added.

 

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