Drink and Drugs News DDN June 2019 | Page 4

News SCOTS RECORD HIGHEST EVER DRUG- RELATED HOSPITAL ADMISSIONS SCOTLAND HAS SEEN A FOURFOLD INCREASE in drug- related hospital stays in the last 20 years, according to the latest figures from the Scottish NHS. Rates have increased from 51 to 199 stays per 100,000 population, with a ‘sharper increase’ seen in recent years. In 2017-18, there were more than 10,500 drug-related general acute hospital stays in Scotland, the highest figure since records began. This related to nearly 8,000 patients, more than half of whom were ‘new’. Nearly 60 per cent of drug-related general acute hospital stays were the result of opioid use, while more than half of drug- related psychiatric hospital stays were associated with ‘multiple/other drugs’, including solvents, stimulants and hallucinogens. The 35-44 age group was the most represented in both types of admissions, with drug- related general acute stays for this group increasing more than tenfold since the mid-1990s. Admission rates for 15-24 year olds are also increasing, however, with the 2017-18 rate the highest in more than a decade. Around half of all patients with a drug-related general acute or psychiatric hospital stay lived in the country’s most deprived areas. ‘These figures are of great concern,’ said Scottish Drugs Forum (SDF) CEO David Liddell. ‘It highlights very clearly the need for greater and targeted interventions with this population both within the hospital setting and in the community, which can reduce unplanned hospital admissions. This will save the NHS resources and deliver a better service to people with a drug problem.’ There were examples of good practice however, he said, such as drug and alcohol nurse liaison posts based in hospitals. ‘These posts aim to assist people in getting appropriate care while in hospital and help link people up with appropriate community based services.’ The trend in increasing admission rates for younger patients was also ‘worrying’, he added, and mainly linked to cocaine and cannabinoid use. Meanwhile, a report from Audit Scotland shows a 71 per cent increase in drug- related deaths in Scotland since 2009, with 76 per cent of fatalities now in the over-35 age group. The 2017 figure was the highest ever recorded, at 934 (DDN, July/August 2018, page 4), with the 2018 total – due to be published this summer – expected to be higher still. Drug-related hospital statistics Scotland 2017/18 at www.isdscotland.org Drug and alcohol services: an update at www.audit- scotland.gov.uk 4 | drinkanddrugsnews | June 2019 DAviD LiDDeLL COUNTY CRACKDOWN COUNTERING CORRUPTION A NEW TASK FORCE TO TACKLE CORRUPTION in prisons and the probation service has been announced by the Ministry of Justice. The Counter Corruption Unit will address issues such as staff smuggling drugs and other contraband into prisons, and will be split into one national and five regional teams. ‘A small minority continue to engage in corrupt behaviour in our prisons – damaging both the integrity of the system and their profession,’ said justice secretary David Gauke. ‘This unit underlines our determination to stamp out criminality in prison in all its forms and will make sure we are closing the net on the individuals driving this.’ ‘These figures... highlight very clearly the need for greater and targeted interventions’ ‘A small minority continue to en - gage in corrupt behav iour in our prisons’ DAviD GAuke FIVE HUNDRED MEN AND 86 WOMEN WERE ARRESTED for county lines-related activity in the week beginning 13 May, according to the National Crime Agency (NCA). The coordinated activity also saw 519 vulnerable adults and 364 children engaged for safeguarding, with more than 30 referrals as potential victims of modern slavery. The grooming techniques used by county lines gangs are ‘similar to what has been seen in child sexual exploitation and abuse’, states the NCA. ‘We know that criminal networks use high levels of violence, exploitation and abuse to ensure compliance from the vulnerable people they employ to do the day-to-day drug supply activity,’ said NCA’s county lines lead, Nikki Holland. ‘These results demonstrate the power of a whole-system response to a complex problem that we’re seeing in every area of the UK.’ DRINKING UP ANNUAL GLOBAL PER CAPITA ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION INCREASED from 5.9 to 6.5 litres per adult between 1990 and 2017, according to a study published in the Lancet. This is estimated to reach 7.6 litres by 2030, with the proportion of adults classed as ‘heavy episodic drinkers’ rising to 23 per cent. Global alcohol exposure between 1990 and 2017 and forecasts until 2030 at www.thelancet.com CASH CALL A CONSENSUS STATEMENT signed by more than 80 organisations including Collective Voice, Alcohol Change UK and the royal colleges of nursing, GPs and surgeons is calling on the government to increase investment in public health to reduce health inequalities. While local authorities had ‘made efficiencies through better commissioning’, cuts were affecting services, it says, adding that removal of funds from public health was ‘a false economy’. Statement at www.cancerresearchuk.org DAY IN DR EDWARD DAY HAS BEEN APPOINTED AS THE GOVERNMENT’S DRUG RECOVERY CHAMPION, the Home Office has announced. Dr Day is a clinical reader in addiction psychiatry and has helped develop national clinical guidance for the substance field. He will agree an ‘annual delivery plan for drug recovery’ with ministers, support collaboration between partners such as councils, housing organisations and criminal justice, and aim to tackle issues such as stigma. ‘His work will make a real difference to the lives of those suffering the misery of drug dependency,’ said home secretary Sajid Javid. See feature, page 8 DRINKING CULTURE ONE IN FIVE IRISH ADULTS IS A ‘HAZARDOUS’ DRINKER, with a further 23 per cent at risk of becoming one, according to a report from Drinkaware.ie. ‘Within the findings is a deep- rooted and broad acceptance of excessive drinking as our cultural norm,’ says the document, adding that most survey respondents had ‘little or no’ awareness of what constitutes low-risk drinking. ‘The negative impact of alcohol in Irish society is widely known,’ said CEO Sheena Horgan. ‘Of particular concern is that these drinking habits appear even more embedded among younger people, with 64 per cent of under- 25s stating that they often drink as a coping mechanism.’ Report at www.drinkaware.ie www.drinkanddrugsnews.com