August 18, 2008

Worst in Country for Drug Poisoning

By Barry Nelson

NEW figures reveal that the NorthEast has the highest proportion of patients admitted to hospital after being poisoned by illegal drugs.

The North-East easily outstrips the North-West ? which has some of the highest rates of illegal drug use in the country ? in this category.

Statistics released by the NHS Information Centre show that during 2006-7, 973 patients were admitted to hospitals in the North- East with drug poisoning.

While many more patients were admitted for drug poisoning in the North-West (2,184), and Yorkshire and the Humber (1,211) last year, the North-East had the highest rate of admissions with 38 per 100,000 residents.

A total of 550 North-East males were admitted with drug poisoning, along with 423 females.

This compared with 608 males and 448 females in the previous year.

Particular hotspots were in County Durham (181), Newcastle (123), and Sunderland (124).

Across England the number of under-25s admitted to hospital with mental and behavioural problems linked to illegal drug use has risen by about a fifth in a decade.

Hospital admissions among children under 16 rose 48 per cent between 1996-97, and 2006-7, from 272 to 402. Among those aged 16 to 24, there was a 17 per cent jump from 5,964 in 1996-97 to 6,983 in 2006-7.

Overall, there was an 18 per cent rise among children and young people.

A total of 2,153 patients were admitted to North-East hospitals after being diagnosed with drug-related mental health and behavioural disorders during 2006-7.

This was the third highest number of admissions per 100,000 of the population, second only to the NorthWest and Yorkshire and the Humber, and above the average for England.

This was an increase on the previous year when 1,883 patients were admitted to North-East hospitals for drug-related mental problems.

However, in the Yorkshire and Humber there was a fall in the number of admissions in this category, from 5,139 two years ago to 4,622 last year.

A total of 12,177 people were receiving treatment for drugmisuse in the North-East last year ? the lowest number in any English region. This is half of the number of patients receiving treatment in Yorkshire and the Humber, and a third of patients treated in London and the North West.

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