Victims of illicit drug poisoning in South Tyneside on the rise

Man smoking a cannabis joint. Pic: PA.
Man smoking a cannabis joint. Pic: PA.

The number of people in South Tynesiders who need hospital treatment after suffering illicit drug poisoning is on the rise.

NHS statistics show that 75 people from the borough were admitted to hospital suffering from the effects of the dangerous substances in the last year, up from 63.

The rate of people needing hospital treatment because of drug-related mental health issues and behavioural disorders has also rocketed, with 295 people seeking help in 2015/16 compared to 195 in 2015/16.

Bosses at South Tyneside Council say they are working to improve the substance misuse service.

Nationally, there were rises in admissions across all age groups, including for patients aged 75 and over, which more than doubled in 10 years.

In 2015/16, there were 15,074 hospital admissions with a primary diagnosis of poisoning by illicit drugs in England.

The tally is 51% higher than the 10,012 recorded in 2005/06, and up by 6% on the previous year.

There were particularly sharp jumps in cases of people in older age categories.

From 2005/06 to 2015/16, admissions of 45 to 54-year-olds for illicit drug poisoning more than doubled from 973 to 2,312.

In the 55 to 64 bracket, the number jumped from 394 to 903. There was a rise from 185 to 510 for 65 to 74-year-olds and from 279 to 575 for people aged 75 and over.

Despite these increases, almost two-thirds of patients were aged between 16 and 44 last year.

The figures, published by NHS Digital, show there were 831 admissions of children aged under 16 for illicit drug poisoning in 2015/16.

There has also been a rise in hospital admissions with a primary diagnosis of drug-related mental health and behavioural disorders.

The number stood at 8,621 last year, an increase of more than a tenth (11%) compared with a decade earlier.

Admissions do not represent the number of in-patients as a person may have more than one admission within the year.

The findings chime with separate figures that have shown drug-related deaths at record levels.

A South Tyneside Council spokeswoman said: “We are continually looking to improve our local substance misuse services and ensure that they are responsive to changing needs.

“One of the ways we do this is to work with partners to emphasise the pivotal role prevention plays and ensure that a whole systems approach is taken to ensure people receive the support they need to successfully recover from addiction.”