A new report from the NHS in Scotland has revealed that Dumfries and Galloway had the highest percentage of drug related hospital admissions in Scotland due to the use of opioids such as heroin.
The report ‘Drug-Related Hospital Statistics Scotland 2016/17’ reveals that of the 202 drug related hospital admissions in the region last year- 81% were related to opioid use.
The report follows on from the recent revelation that the number of people in Dumfries and Galloway dying from drug overdoses has reached record levels.
The report from the National Records of Scotland published in August showed that in 2016 there were 17 deaths due to drug overdoses in Dumfries and Galloway compared to 11 in 2015 and 5 people in 2006.
This growth in deaths and the large number of opioid-related hospital admissions comes as funding to Alcohol and Drug partnerships has been cut by the Scottish Government.
In 2016-17, the allocation from the Scottish Government to Scottish NHS boards for alcohol and drug partnerships was £53.8 million—down from £69.2 million in 2015-16.
In Dumfries and Galloway, that led to a cut in direct funding from £1.98 million to £1.53 million. Although local health boards were asked to make up that difference, NHS Dumfries and Galloway was able to find only £234,000 of the £452,000 shortfall.
South Scotland MSP and Shadow Health Minister Colin Smyth said, "These shocking figures come on the back of the recent revelation that there were more drug deaths recorded in the region last year than ever before. The fact we have a growing older population and therefore a rise in the number of older, long term drug users in the region partly explains why the figures relate to heroin use and the requirement for hospital treatment. Older drug users tend to need more hospital care as the impact of long term use of drugs takes its toll. It’s not uncommon to hear of older drug users suffering from physical conditions including breathing problems, diabetes, hepatitis, weight loss as well as mental health problems. This is often caused by loneliness and isolation as long term drug use can lead to the severing of links with family and non-drug users”.
“These figures highlight the huge mistake the Scottish Government made when cutting funding to alcohol and drug partnerships. We need to see more, not less support giving to get people off drugs, which will ultimately save the NHS money in the long term and that’s why I’ll be continuing to press the Government to reverse that decision”.
The report on the rise in drug related deaths can be read here: