Drug-related A&E admissions in Scotland up by 13 per cent

The average weekly number of drug-related attendances at Scottish A&E departments between March and May this year increased by 13 per cent compared to the same period last year – to more than 1,080 attendances. 

Ayreshire Hospital
The A&E entrance at Ayrshire’s Crosshouse Hospital, located between Kilmarnock and Irvine. (Stock image copyright Mary and Angus Hogg)

However, the average weekly number of drug-related acute admissions was down by 23 per cent between January and March compared to last year, and by almost 50 per cent compared to 2021. 

The figures are included in Public Health Scotland’s (PHS) latest RADAR (Rapid Action Drug Alerts and Response) quarterly ​report. The number of suspected drugs was ‘broadly stable’ at around 100 per month between March and May, the report adds, a similar figure to last year. 

The drug death figures in RADAR documents, however, are based on the reports of police officers attending scenes of death and do not provide a ‘robust indication of the numbers of drug-related deaths occurring each year’, PHS states. The official statistics from National Records of Scotland, which are based on death certificates and pathologist reports, are due to be published in August. RADAR has two current alerts for drugs that pose a high risk of overdose – nitazene-type opioids and bromazolam, the most commonly detected ‘street benzo’. 

Rapid Action Drug Alerts and Response (RADAR) quarterly ​report: July 2023 here. 

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