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Drug related mental health hospital visits up 75 per cent in Shropshire

By Dominic Robertson | Telford | Health | Published:

Hospital admissions for patients with drug related mental health issues in Shropshire have increased by more than three quarters in the last four years.

Charities say the figures show people are more candid with doctors about substance abuse.

Between April 2017 and March 2018, there were 280 admissions for mental illnesses or behaviour disorders where the main cause or a contributing factor was drugs.

According to the latest NHS England figures, that is a rise of 78 per cent from four years ago, when these records began.

In Telford & Wrekin over the same period there were 175 admissions for mental illnesses or behaviour disorders where the main cause or a contributing factor was drugs.

According to the latest NHS England figures that is a rise of 19 per cent from four years ago, the first release of the data.

Lucy Schonegevel, from Rethink Mental Illness, said: “This is yet another piece of evidence in an ever-growing list showing the pressure that NHS services are facing in treating people with mental ill health.

“The reasons behind this increase will be numerous and complex. We hear from our supporters about the difficulties that they face accessing services when they have a combination of mental health and drug issues.

“Services for people with mental illness, and services for people with substance misuse problems, are funded and provided by completely different organisations. Sadly, this can mean that people often fall through gaps in the system.”

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Of Shropshire's 280 admissions, 190 were men and 90 were women. Drugs tended to be a contributing factor for mental health issues, rather than the main cause. There were 15 cases where they were diagnosed as the primary reason for behaviour disorders.

These figures only indicate the number of admissions, not patients. They could include one patient who has been to hospital several times over the year.

In Telford & Wrekin of the 175 admissions, 110 were men and 65 were women.

Across England, there was a 27 per cent rise in drug related admissions over the last four years.

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Steve Moffatt, of the public health charity Addaction, said the increase could be due to improved recording practices in hospitals and “a greater willingness among people in general to admit to a history of substance use”.

“These are both positive developments and we encourage anything that helps people be open and honest without fear of judgement,” he said.

“It's essential that people feel able to disclose a substance issue and ask for help.”

The rate of drug related mental health admissions in Shropshire is 98 per 100,000 people, lower than the West Midlands's average, which is 134 per 100,000.

In Telford & Wrekin the figure is 99 per 100,000 people.

Mr Moffat commented: "The statistics show a significant north versus south divide. In both the North East and North West, hospital admissions in this category are 50 per cent higher than the national rate."

The figures also show the number of admissions for patients who have overdosed on illegal drugs, such as ecstasy or heroin.

From April 2017 to March 2018 there were 55 admissions, a decrease of nine cases, on the previous year.

Compared with four years ago there has been a four per cent decrease in hospital admissions for illegal drugs overdoses.

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