Patients hospitalised by drugs in the Lothians at record levels

SHOCK new figures show the number of patients hospitalised in the Lothians after taking drugs is the highest in more than 20 years.

Tuesday, 28th May 2019, 5:50 pm
Cannabinoids, including skunk and spice, are included in the figures

There were 1,383 admitted in 2017/2018 - equivalent to more than three-a-day and more than double the number in 1996/97.

Admissions for cocaine doubled in the last year alone while those for opioids including heroin and cannabinoids, including super strong skunk, were also at record levels.

Lothian MSP and shadow health secretary Miles Briggs said: “Hundreds of vulnerable people have been let down and what is particularly concerning is the increase in psychiatric hospital admissions for cannabinoids and cocaine use.”

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There were 162 patients admitted to hospital for cocaine abuse in 2017/18 - more than double the 78 in the previous year.

The 264 admissions for cannabinoids, including synthetics such as Spice, were nearly five times as many as the 54 in 1996/97.

Scotland has reportedly become a net exporter of cannabis as far eastern Triad gangs set up ever more marijuana factories.

Last year also saw 759 patients admitted for opioids were three times the 231 in 1996/97. Patients were admitted to either general acute or psychiatric wards.

Mr Briggs added: “There has been an alarming increase in hospital admissions for cannabinoids and cocaine in NHS Lothian over the last five years.

“Alcohol and drug partnerships in Lothian have been repeatedly underfunded by SNP ministers and their funds raided by Integration Joint Boards, meaning increasingly long waiting times for patients to be seen.

“The Scottish Conservatives launched their drug strategy this year which aims to provide problem drug users with more support and a personalised life plan support and sustain their transition from addiction back to a functioning life.”

Nationally, there were 9,354 patients admitted to hospitals across Scotland for drug misuse last year - also the highest number for 22 years.

Detective Superintendent Martin Maclean said: "Tackling all forms of drug crime and drug-related harm remains a priority, both locally and nationally.

"Edinburgh Division works closely each day with the City of Edinburgh Council, NHS Lothian and the third sector to find holistic solutions to drug misuse.

"Similarly, we are engaged with the Edinburgh Alcohol & Drug Partnership.

"We remain committed to enforcement, where necessary, and intervention, where possible, and endeavour to refer vulnerable people we come into contact with to appropriate support services."

Chartered Psychologist Dr Bryan McIntosh put a rise in drug use down to social acceptability, relative affordability and ignorance of the consequences of unrestricted use. “Quite simply the greater the use of any of these drugs the worse the problems, the synthetic drugs are particularly dangerous all of these drugs have profoundly destructive impacts on mental health when there use is unfettered,” added Dr McIntosh.

Dr Tracey Gillies, Medical Director, NHS Lothian said; “In recent years NHS Lothian has seen a rise in drug-related hospital stays despite the support and treatment offered in the community. NHS Lothian works in partnership with Police Scotland, councils, charities and local communities as part of the Alcohol and Drug Partnerships to minimise the harms associated with drug and alcohol use. We will continue to work with partners to address the public health concerns raised by this and other reports.”