MSP Katy Clark has said the Scottish Government must act to tackle “Scotland’s alcohol deaths public health emergency” after related deaths hit a 14-year high.

Latest figures from National Records of Scotland (NRS) show that 1,276 people died as a direct consequence of alcohol misuse last year, adding to the over 11,000 alcohol-specific deaths in Scotland over the past decade.

The alcohol-specific mortality rate in the most deprived areas of Scotland was found to be 4.3 times higher than it was in the last deprived areas.

The NRS figures only include deaths directly attributable to alcohol misuse, and do not reflect all deaths where alcohol was a contributing factor. 

West of Scotland Labour MSP Ms Clark said the Scottish Government had repeatedly made cuts to alcohol and drug partnerships in recent years with their funding allocation falling from £106.5 million in 2021/22 to £89.3 million this financial year.

She added: “It is extremely concerning that alcohol-specific deaths in Scotland have hit a 14-year high.

“Alcohol-specific deaths are even more prevalent in Scotland’s poorest communities and this is undoubtedly due to the significant cuts that we have seen in recent years to alcohol and drug partnerships across Scotland.

“While minimum pricing has undoubtedly played a role in reducing alcohol-related health inequalities, it is not the silver bullet to addressing this issue.  We need to see investment in alcohol recovery services and more action taken to tackle the marketing, availability, and price of alcohol across Scotland.

“Deaths from alcohol need to be treated as seriously as drugs deaths, which have rightly been recognised as a public health crisis.

"That’s why I urge the Scottish Government to come forward with an action plan when the Scottish Parliament returns next week which makes clear how they will tackle Scotland’s alcohol deaths public health emergency”.

Drugs and alcohol policy minister Elena Whitham agreed more work is required to reduce alcohol-related harm.

The Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley MSP said after the figures were revealed: "Every life lost is a tragedy and my sympathy goes to all those affected by the loss of a loved one through alcohol.

"While we will need to better understand the reasons for this increase in deaths, I will do all I can to reduce alcohol-related harm.

"We will continue to work closely with Alcohol and Drug Partnerships (ADPs) and the third sector to address this public health priority, backed by substantial investment."