Fall in drug-related hospital admissions

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Hospital admissions with a primary diagnosis of drug-related mental and behavioural disorders have fallen by 5 per cent, according to new figures from NHS Digital. While last year’s admissions were down to 7,027 from 7,376 in 2018-19 – and 18 per cent from a record figure of 8,621 five years ago – they are still more than 20 per cent higher than a decade ago.

Hospital admissions are still five times more likely in most deprived areas.

More than 70 per cent of the admissions in 2019-20 were for men, with the highest admission rate in Kingston upon Hull and admissions around five times more likely in the most deprived areas. When it came to a primary or secondary diagnosis of drug related mental and behavioural disorders there were almost 100,000 admissions, a 3 per cent increase on 2018-19 and with admissions more than eight times more likely in the most deprived areas.

Last year also saw almost 17,000 admissions for poisoning by drug misuse, a 6 per cent fall from 2018-19 but again almost 10 per cent higher than a decade ago. Middlesbrough had the highest admission rate, while seven of the nine lowest rates were in London boroughs.

‘These statistics show that drug-related harms in England continue to affect thousands of people directly and millions indirectly,’ said We Are With You deputy CEO Laura Bunt. ‘When someone ends up in hospital due to drugs it’s often because of a lack of knowledge of the potential dangers of what they are taking. At the same time, while falling slightly compared to previous years, the number of people still being admitted for mental health related issues shows what happens when people who use drugs are locked out of accessing mental health support. 

‘The differences in hospital admissions and deaths between the most deprived and least deprived areas show how problematic drug use is often a reaction to people’s surroundings,’ she continued. ‘Issues such as rising homelessness, poor mental health and a lack of economic opportunities in some areas all lead to people using drugs. Add to that the added strain and anxiety of living through a pandemic and it becomes clear that it’s extremely important that the government stays true to its levelling up agenda to address inequalities across the country.’

Statistics on drugs misuse, England 2020 at digital.nhs.uk